Stunned Portsmouth '˜role model' chosen for exchange held in honour of murdered MP

HIS work has been hailed as '˜amazing' for bringing people together and helping young people influence their community.

Saturday, 15th July 2017, 7:00 am
Updated Tuesday, 12th September 2017, 11:54 am
Hayden Taylor. Picture: Habibur Rahman

Now Hayden Taylor has been left stunned after being selected for a trip to America on a scheme set up in honour of murdered MP Jo Cox.

Hayden, 20, was handpicked from 400 applicants to attend the Jo Cox Memorial Exchange, named after the politician who inspired him.

Winning a place on the scheme, which will see him fly next month, was a complete surprise for Hayden.

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He said: ‘I was not expecting this at all. The candidates were really strong.

‘To be selected from such a large list of people is a great honour.

‘I can’t wait to share our work stateside and respectively explore and learn about how communities unite and function.’

Hayden, who lives in Portsmouth, was chosen in recognition of his work promoting community cohesion through his social enterprise, Unloc.

The 14-day exchange will take him to New York, Philadelphia and Washington DC for a host of dialogue groups, workshops and cultural activities.

Rod Edwards, from Unloc’s advisory board, encouraged Hayden to apply for the programme.

He said: ‘Beyond his years in maturity, Hayden is an absolute superstar.

‘It is wonderful to see such an impressive young person come out of Portsmouth. It just shows what can be done.

‘He is a role model for his generation.’

Mrs Cox, who was MP for Batley and Spen, was murdered on June 16 last year by a far-right terrorist who was later sentenced to a life term for the killing.

She has been widely recognised for her efforts throughout her life in promoting tolerance and equality.

And as he gears up to embark on the exchange, Hayden said the scheme was a ‘beautiful tribute’ to the murdered MP.

He said: ‘I think this is an absolutely beautiful tribute for a woman who stood up for her values. The horrific event in which Jo was murdered rocked the nation and the fact this programme is supporting young people in doing the things she held dear is wonderful.’

Earlier this year through his firm Unloc, which was set up with friend Ben Dowling, Hayden has promoted cohesion.

He staged the first-ever Extremely Together event at Portsmouth College – a brainchild of the Kofi Annan Foundation.

Students met Bjørn Ihler, a survivor of the mass shooting that took place in Utøya, Norway, in 2011 – as well as Fatima Zaman, who was near the Aldgate explosion during the London 7/7 bombings in 2005.

Hayden said: ‘This was all about community cohesion. We wanted to bring people together and promote the ideal that we all have far more in common than that which divides us.’

Unloc also holds student forums four times a year.

He said: ‘Just recently, our Portsmouth-based group worked with the city council to set up an anti-bullying strategy.’

Successful applicants to the exchange have won praise from the US Embassy in London.

A spokesperson from the US Embassy in London, which sponsors the Jo Cox Memorial Exchange, said Hayden was doing ‘amazing things’ in the community he helps.