Young MP for Blackburn elected with focus on mental health issues and tackling food poverty


Blackburn’s new youth MPs with Darwen Youth Forum have been announced, with its new leader aiming to tackle a host of social issues.

The election took place on Monday night, with Muhammed Bapu elected as the new youth MP, based on his campaign to support youth mental health and tackle food poverty.

Hasti Jahanghiri and Isabelle Crawford were also elected deputy deputies for the period 2022-2024.

READ MORE: Young people in Blackburn have been trained to offer peer support and wellbeing to make a difference in their communities

Muhammed, 16, is passionate about tackling mental health issues and food poverty

Muhammed, 16, said: “I was first told about becoming a youth ambassador at Blackburn when my teacher at school told me about it.

“I then took a 10-week course to understand the borough and the local community so that I could participate in the forum to the best of my ability.

“When I joined the team, my initial focus was to support mental health and help guide young people who may have found themselves in a life of crime to the right services.

“In 2019 I was elected as a Forum MP and I stood again in this election and was delighted to be elected as a Youth MP.

“The skills I will acquire by becoming an MP and my work within the Forum will be transferable to my future career and to the relationships and networks I will build.”

Hasti Jahanghiri, 17, First Deputy MP, is an Iranian refugee who moved to Blackburn in January 2020.

She was nominated for the Forum by her school and Child Action North West, a charity she was closely involved with due to her role as a young carer for her mother.

Hasti said: “I think because I’m a refugee and I come from a country that’s a dictatorship, I appreciate democracy more and young people using their voices.

“I am very passionate and a firm believer in young people being heard and I see myself as a person who knows how to express themselves.

“I’m also part of the LGBTQ+ community, so I have a real passion for equality and I stress the importance of respecting people, no matter their race, ethnicity, sexuality or whatever. else.

Hasti Jahanghiri, 17 years old
Hasti Jahanghiri, 17 years old

Hasti’s election campaigns have focused on issues such as sexual harassment among women and improving transport accessibility for young people in Blackburn.

She continued: “With my new role, I will do my best to improve the lives of people in the region and that is why I have chosen these issues in my campaign.

“Transport really is a journey of independence for young people and it’s not always easy for people in Blackburn to access transport.

“As well as this, I hope we can soon discuss the issues of sexual harassment for young people by educating people from an early age on what is OK and what is not and where to go if you have need someone to talk to or you need help.

“I really want to work on destroying the stigma of this stuff and making sure people are more open to talking about something that may have happened to them.

Hasti is considering her future career as an engineer or mathematician, as she shows a genuine passion for science, which hopefully can lead to a public sector role in politics – building on her experiences within of the Forum.

The announcement of the youth deputy in the council chamber
The announcement of the youth deputy in the council chamber

6,000 young people voted in this year’s youth elections, with ballots cast at area schools, colleges and youth organizations.

Liz Clarkson is Head of Participation and Inclusion in Blackburn with Darwen Young People’s Services, she said: “Youth elections in Blackburn have been going on since 2001 and since 2019 MPs are elected for two years.

“Muhammed has been instrumental in addressing and de-stigmatizing the mental health issues of young people in the region, particularly post-COVID, which includes our work to establish our own Wellness Champions who support people in the schools and colleges that may be struggling with their issues.

“Usually nominees create their campaigns during our residencies, where they create a one-minute video about the issues they want to address and it will be shown in assemblies, PSHE courses and youth clubs where everyone gets a vote.

“However, due to COVID, we canceled that which is a shame because often times that’s where we can do team building exercises and get to know each other, but we just did it during one of our Forum evenings instead.

“The issues Muhammed has championed are widespread issues in Blackburn that come up year after year in our meetings about what should be discussed as issues for the region.”

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