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Virendra Sharma MP Hosts Voter Registration Event for Colleges Week

West London College, in partnership with West London Citizens, was delighted to host a voter registration event at Southall Community College as part of Colleges Week. Guest speaker, Virendra Sharma MP for Ealing, Southall, spoke to over fifty childcare and ESOL students about the importance of registering to vote and taking part in the GLA, Mayoral, and General Elections, which are due to take place this year.

During his speech Virendra Sharma, a Southall resident for fifty-one years, local Councillor for 25 years, and the Member of Parliament since 2007, said that the political future is in the hands of those who choose to register to vote now.

Virendra Sharma MP at the event
Virendra Sharma MP at the event

Virendra asked the students what kind of society they wanted to live in and advised: “If you want to live in a society which is a democracy, become involved in the decision-making process by registering to vote and taking part in elections.”

The event included a quiz about voting and included questions such as:

  • ‘Can the King vote?’
    Yes, he can, but chooses not to vote to be neutral.
  • Can astronauts orbiting the earth vote?’
    Yes, they can – by post in the UK, but in the US they can actually vote on the space station.
  • ‘Can members of the House of Lords vote in a General Election?’
    No, but they can vote in local authority elections.

Students who had not already registered to vote were given a QR code to access and time and support to do this in the meeting. A student presenting at the event explained that more people failed to vote in the last election compared to the number of votes cast for the winning party. There were 15.5 million non-voters compared to 13.9 million Conservative voters.

Hilal Yazan, from Citizens UK, talked about the successes local people had achieved in London by uniting and communicating the issues impacting their lives to politicians, leaders, and decision-makers. The significant wins Hilal described were campaigning for many local employers to pay the London Living Wage, setting up Community Land Trusts to ensure house building owned by the community, and a fully funded ESOL website for Londoners to find out where they can learn English.

ESOL teacher Marie Nekesa explained the college has already begun a listening exercise with students to find out what the key issues are for them and this work continued in the meeting with the lack of housing, homelessness, and issues relating to temporary accommodation cited as the most pressing.

ESOL student Rodayna El Sayed said of the event: “I think we did so well. Some people were able to tell us about their problems and now we have a way forward to help other people. Co-chairing the event has also helped to improve my confidence.”

Hilal has organised a follow-up meeting with students at WLC on Monday 25 March at 10am to explore the issues around housing further and plan to meet the Leader of Ealing Council, Peter Mason, to tell him their concerns.

Hilal also encouraged students to sign up to attend the London Mayoral Assembly at the Methodist Central Hall in Westminster on 25 April, 6-8pm to present the London Citizens manifesto on housing, wages and work and migration to the next Mayor of London. Contact: hilal.yazan@citizensuk.org

Virendra Sharma MP encouraged students aged under 25 to attend the Ealing Southall Youth Community Forum, which he chairs on Thursday 29 February at Perceval House at 5pm. At the meeting, young people will be able to question the leader of the council, the chief superintendent of police and leaders from the local NHS and mental health services.

Colleges Week 2024

Colleges Week is an annual national celebration of further education colleges, promoting the essential work of the sector in education and training to meet the needs of the UK, and to drive the country’s economy forward. Colleges Week is organised by the Association of Colleges.

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