At a school in Newcastle this year, I met a group of sixth formers who talked to me about what needed to change for them to have the kind of future they aspired to. They were gritty, realistic and knew where they wanted to get to in life, but they couldn’t see how to get there. Later that day, I did a local radio phone-in. A boy rang and talked about how he really wanted to be a pilot and to train at the aviation school at Newcastle airport. But he couldn’t afford the bus fare from Newcastle so he had given up on that aspiration. This boy didn’t know anyone in his family who had a job, yet he had forged an ambition to be a pilot, which was then smashed for want of a bus fare.
I call it ‘the straw that breaks…’. This boy probably had so many odds stacked against him, that a simple bus fare seemed an insurmountable obstacle. We need MPs to be alert to the everyday reality of children such as these – voteless and usually voiceless – and to champion their rights to self-determination. And we need every corner of government to do its bit. This is what