Young Christian leaders mentored by politicians

Christians were celebrating their graduation from a UN award-winning leadership development programme this week.

Hazel Blears, Iain Duncan Smith and Margaret Hodge were among the MPs and peers who mentored students on the Three Faiths Forum’s Undergraduate ParliaMentors (UP) programme.

The UP programme was launched in 2007 to help build better relations between people of different faiths and build a network of new leaders who can work together on political and social issues.

The students learned about the inner workings of politics by attending debates and committee meetings, and networking with policymakers at exclusive events in Parliament.

They also worked together in mixed-faith trios to develop social action and political empowerment projects on issues like human trafficking and educational poverty.

John Bercow MP, Speaker of the House of Commons, said the programme was encouraging young people from all faiths to learn about leadership and good citizenship.

“I am sure many of the young people taking part in Three Faiths Forum’s Undergraduate ParliaMentors will go on to great careers in politics and elsewhere, making excellent use of the values and skills this scheme has helped them develop,” he said.

Andrei Constantin was one of the graduates at Tuesday’s ceremony in the House of Commons. He said he had made good friends with people of different faiths through working together on the various projects.

Ruth Grayston, a UP graduate and student at Manchester University, said the programme had given her the opportunity to work with people of different faiths in a setting where “asking questions about our differences was welcome”.

“A fellow trio member came to church on Sunday and has invited me to her synagogue. This programme really does build bridges,” she said.

Muslims and Jews also took part in the programme.

Muna Abbas, a Muslim student from Manchester University, said: “This project has taught me how to use my beliefs as a tool to improving not only myself, but the world in which I live.

“It proves that religion and politics can come together to encourage social harmony and understanding while making a positive contribution to society.”

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