NLC win 'Action of the Year' at Brent Citizens Assembly
Ark Academy students' tireless efforts in the community were rewarded at Brent Citizens Assembly, where they won 'Action of the Year' for their work on the London Living Wage campaign.
As a result of his constant presence and contribution to the Citizens organisation Year 8 student Rares was named Leader of the Year and was also chosen to chair the Assembly.
We spoke to him to about how the night went, how the team feels about their award and what's next for NLC...
How did the event go?
'It was great, I loved it. Everybody worked together, there was a real sense of teamwork. There was loads of synergie and overall it was a great atmosphere. Throughout meetings at Newman Catholic School we have been developing a plan for the assembly and deciding who would take on which role; chairing it was a really good chance to get to be directly involved in the meeting.
Which projects were showcased on the night?
‘The point of the night was to raise awareness about our campaigns that we have been doing lately, the Housing Project, the Living Wage Project and the Rent project.
Our team at Ark have been involved in the Living Wage project and we did a little drama performance to show you the importance of the Living Wage.
We also got to ask the MP candidates for Brent to sign our 3 pledges to say they would support us in our goals for these community campaigns.
The performance was about different people from different backgrounds trying to get a job at IKEA except they pay only the minimum wage and the people can’t actually work there because they need more money to support their life.
There was a single mother, a student that goes to university, a father of 3 that had already had 4 jobs on minimum wage and couldn’t actually do them anymore because he doesn’t have time to see his kids and the last character was a man who has been living off benefits for 10 years and his benefits pay him more than the Living Wage would.'
Were you happy with what the candidates agreed to do?
I was happy with two of them because they were really open to the different pledges and signing the sheet. However the other two did not really agree with the pledges; one of them being the Conservative man who said he needed different figures to actually see what the pledge is going to offer, not just for the community but for his party itself. So I wish he could’ve signed it.
How do you feel about the team winning Action of the Year?
I feel really great, the whole team deserved it, not just me. Everybody worked on it, Anish was leading and helping me out, Anab was always up there with the other guys trying to get them all in order and Swapnil did well as the interviewer. So everyone had their own role in the team and I think working together and having these different roles helped us shine through.
Swapnil explained how their drama performance came to be:
'The idea was Paul Amuzie’s first to do a drama and then it was my idea to do an interview.
It was kind of hard to come up with it but we spent about two weeks doing it and we were really happy with the last version that we did. It was hard performing it at first in front of those people in the audience, especially with the exaggerations when we had to say ‘That’s rubbish!’ and ‘That’s mad!’'
Why are the three subjects, Living Wage and Housing and Young Unemployment so important?
Anish: 'There are lots of homeless people and the amount of money for a house in Brent is really high, especially in London because it’s a really popular place so mortgages and rents are really high.'
Swapnil: 'A lot of people don’t get to provide for their children or themselves and Living Wage really makes sure that they actually have enough money to provide for themselves.
It’s appalling to see that someone with good qualifications doesn’t get an apprenticeship, but they really do deserve a chance and we’re looking to change that as well.'
Year 11 students Michaela and Kiara wrote and performed a rap and song about the Living Wage: -
Michaela said: 'We literally wrote the song in about 10 minutes. We had done some PSHE lessons on the subject so we wrote how we felt about the Living Wage and its impact. When Kiara first did the chorus and we played the instrumental, she was just singing whatever came into her head, to get a feel for it. We did it a couple of times and she put the lyrics together, then I drafted the rap and it all came together.'
'I enjoyed seeing the drama piece by the rest of the Ark students as well. I think it was really influential and pushed for something new to happen.'