Young leader talks politics with MP who inspires her

Anastasia Lonergan and MP Alan Mak. 
Photo: Habibur Rahman
Anastasia Lonergan and MP Alan Mak. Photo: Habibur Rahman

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A NEWLY-ELECTED young leader got the chance to discuss current affairs with her political role model.

Year 10 student at Oaklands Catholic School in Waterlooville, Anastasia Lonergan, sat down for a cup of tea with the local MP she hailed as ‘inspiring’.

Anastasia Lonergan and MP Alan Mak. 
Photo: Habibur Rahman

Anastasia Lonergan and MP Alan Mak. Photo: Habibur Rahman

After winning an election to represent Havant, Gosport and Fareham as a member of UK youth parliament (MYP) last month, Miss Lonergan enjoyed a lengthy chat with Conservative MP for Havant, Alan Mak, yesterday afternoon.

The pair touched on a host of current issues, including the school curriculum, the NHS’s provision of mental health services, the lowering of the national voting age and the safety of the LGBT community.

Anastasia, 15, said the meeting was ‘really useful.’

She added: ‘It’s given me an insight into what Alan does as an MP for his constituents and it’s given me advice for what I can do for the youth in the constituency.

‘It’s nice to be able to sit down and have a proper discussion about what we both stand for and how we can work together in the future.’

Speaking about the importance of young people’s opinions, Mr Mak said: ‘I look forward to working with Anastasia.

‘The views of young people in politics are extremely important – they are the future – and I think it’s amazing we have great people like Anastasia in our community who are putting themselves forward and making sure the voices of young people are heard.

‘She represents three constituencies and I only represent one, so she’s already ahead of me in the political race!’

Just one week after being elected an MYP by the area’s 11 to 18-year-old voters, Anastasia was sent to Liverpool for the parliament’s 17th annual sitting.

There, she engaged in debates with hundreds of other young people and enjoyed talks and appearances from a host of political figures, including speaker of the House of Commons, MP John Bercow.

Anastasia said the experience was ‘nerve-racking’ initially.

‘Before I went to Liverpool, I hadn’t met any of the other MYPs.

‘There were people from everywhere, like Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales. It was pretty incredible.’

It was Anastasia’s history teacher, Victoria Masson, who encouraged her to stand for youth parliament.

She said: ‘I’m really proud of her. Anastasia has been a delight to teach.’

For the next year, Miss Lonergan will liaise with young pupils across the area to discuss the issues they care about.

It is hoped she will then be able to forward these on to central government.