Blog 31 October 2023

Youth Ambassadors reflect on this year’s Political party conferences

This autumn our DofE Youth Ambassadors attended the Conservative, Labour and Liberal Democrat party conferences. During the conferences they spoke with charity leaders, other youth advocates and political figures about their DofE journey and issues they care about.

Liberal Democrat party conference

Youth Ambassador and Young Leader, Hannah, attended the Liberal Democrat conference in Bournemouth, where she spoke to a variety of leaders in the youth sector and the party. Hannah also gave some insightful contributions on the DofE panel; ‘Helping young people to succeed – the value of youth work and enrichment’ alongside the Children’s Commissioner for England Rachel de Souza. Hannah said:

“Attending the conference was an opportunity unlike any other, I felt very lucky to have the chance to represent DofE and speak on behalf of young people during the panel discussion. Meeting Rachel de Souza and Ruth Marvel was such a privilege and they made me feel so comfortable. I’m so grateful for this opportunity and my DofE Award which has given me a voice and an opportunity to be heard.”

Conservative party conference

Izzy, Cara and Zak joined us in Manchester at the Conservative party conference. Throughout the day they spoke to a wide range of change makers, attending events, MP meetings and the Chancellor of the Exchequer’s speech. In partnership with ConservativeHome, the DofE charity hosted a reception event which Youth Ambassador, Zak, spoke at alongside our CEO, Ruth Marvel, Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, Lucy Frazer MP and the CEO of ConservativeHome, Angus Parsad-Wyatt. Reflecting on the day Zak said:

“I enjoyed my time at the conference, I’ve never had the opportunity to give a speech at a party conference before, especially in front of the Secretary of State and other influential people. Luckily, I was speaking about Youth Empowerment which is something I’m passionate about. It was refreshing seeing so many people interested in what the youth had to say about the future.”

Watch Zak’s speech here.

Cara said: “The Conservative party conference was like the Disneyland of politics, it was a surreal experience! These kinds of opportunities highlighted the amazing impact and influence that people and policies can have on society. DofE always puts you out of your comfort zone; from talking to charities, current and prospective politicians and the Prime Minister himself, it was fascinating. One of my highlights was talking to Gillian Keegan, the Education Secretary on Degree Apprenticeships, something I am incredibly interested in pursuing, and it’s something that she is a major advocate for.”

Izzy said: “I had an amazing time at the Conservative party conference and I was proud to represent the DofE charity. It was fascinating to gain insight into such an important event and I enjoyed speaking to so many new and interesting people. Going to the conference is something that I wouldn’t have had the opportunity to do without the DofE Youth Ambassador programme and it’s inspired me to throw myself into the next events that I can take part in as a Youth Ambassador.”

Labour party conference

To end this year’s conference programme, Alexie, Zainab and Rich were in Liverpool at the Labour party conference where they spoke with Shadow Culture Minister Lillian Greenwood, attended a variety of panel events and recorded a podcast episode with Walton Youth Project. Alexie also took part in the DofE’s panel event – highlighting the value of soft skills – with Ian Byrne MP and DofE partner, Amey.

Speaking about the conference, Alexie said: “When I was first asked to attend the Labour conference I expected it to be really strict and formal but in reality it was fun and educational. I came away from the conference with so much more confidence and knowledge on how politics work, and the opinions of many young people. My favourite part of the conference was speaking about the changes that need to happen and hearing other young people talk about change was an amazing experience. Talking on the DofE panel was nerve-wracking as I hadn’t done a speech before and never had the confidence to speak in front of people, but I’m so happy that I did it and it will always be a memory to treasure!”

Zainab said: “It was a fantastic opportunity to share the impact and importance of the DofE in empowering young people. I was inspired by the support and enthusiasm of those in attendance, including the Shadow Minister for Arts, Heritage and Civil Society Lilian Greenwood MP. We discussed the power and significance of DofE in providing enrichment opportunities to people from marginalised backgrounds. Together, we are creating a brighter future for our youth through the DofE, and I’m proud to be a part of this transformative journey.”

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