Story collector: Donna Roberts
I was born in June 2003 at Wordsley hospital, I have one brother and one sister and I am the eldest. I went to St Joseph’s Catholic Primary School in Kates Hill, where I would say I was very shy and I didn’t speak up that much. Then I came to secondary school, I think it took me about two years to get used to it. But for some reason in year nine it just hit me that I needed to speak up and have a voice so I just started doing loads of stuff. I realised there’s no point staying quite, you have to be outspoken about stuff.
The first thing I did was with my old head master, and that was the head masters conference. That was all the head teachers from Dudley local schools and the students had to run it. Me and another boy we told them how to register in, where to park, we listened to the workshops, and we even did the raffle at the end. I did really enjoy it and after felt I wanted to do more of that kind of stuff where I was working more with adults. I feel that I have a personality that adults like, they do want to talk to me and approach me.
There was an opportunity for me to get involved with Police week, we learned about how to keep safe, first aid, we went to the Police Dog Centre and I abseiled out of a building!
The thing that struck me was that the professionals I was working with were so confident and energetic and I could see that they were here for us to support us.
I have been a member of Dudley Youth Council for two years now, a teacher suggested that I join it, I wasn’t into politics that much when I first joined, but it was full of people that wanted to be there, it was a place where we are all equal and valued. I remember the first thing I did was go on residential, I learned how to bond with others and about politics. I will never forget coming back and emailing Siobhan and telling her I wanted to do parliament week. I started planning parliament week and I think just organising it made me feel so happy, I just wanted to do the best for year sevens. Last year we took year sevens to the Dudley Council Chambers were I had organised guest speakers to come in a debate and Dudley Youth Council members to come and run workshops.
I just have a passion for being active and wanting to help people to learn more on a subject that hits them. Politics is important because it’s the way the world works, democracy is something that is key and we need to work with councils rather than be fighting against them.
One of my fine moments when I was chosen to be a young representative for the Chamber of Commerce. The thing that surprised me is that this is aimed at people in years 12 and 13, so in year 10 I was representing the West Midlands and I think the best moment was when the director from the Black Country Chamber came to school and we got to ask him some hard questions, he really liked the way we were working.
After parliament week my second event was Equaliteas I got a few youth councillors together with Ian Austin and Shaz Saleem to come together and celebrate women’s votes I think that was one of my best moments to date because it was organised in such a short time and it all just fit into place nicely. We had sunshine and cake and we were asking residents what their opinion on suffragettes and what they did for democracy and equality for women. I have a passion for getting people who wouldn’t usually be involved in these conversations really involved.
I was also chosen to work with the Anne Frank Trust we had to do a campaign that meant a lot to Dudley Borough so we decided to focus on Islamophobia. I started a campaign around Educated don’t Hate, this has led to me becoming the leader alongside another student of the Anne Frank trust at our school. We had to organise and chair regular meetings, organise the social media element of the campaign, we had guest speakers. Educate Don’t Hate did get lots of people involved, it ran for a year but has now finished. By doing this work I was recognised by the leader of the Anne Frank Trust who has asked me to be the leader for Dudley and the West Midlands on the Shout Don’t Hate campaign, which involved recording in Birmingham about how young people can get involved in a campaign around hate crime and speaking out about it. I was a little anxious but I just did it!
My parents love the fact that I am involved in this stuff, they ask me what I am up to now! They know how passionate I am about it and enjoy seeing me enjoying it. The best thing about doing this stuff is meeting new people and making amazing links. Being a panel member on the Innovation Fund and helping make decisions on what young people’s projects got funded in the borough helped me make some amazing links. At the end of the day if you are not going to stand up or speak out nothing will ever change.
Looking back on how I was in years seven and eight I feel like I am a totally different person, my friends say to me I don’t really remember you in year seven and now your deputy head boy at the Academy. Being deputy head boy I am always asking year 11 students what they want, at the moment I am trying to get year books for them. I think the students understand that I am doing the best for them and they are always asking ‘Amman, what’s your next plan’ I think people do see that I am doing all this for other people, it’s not just a badge of honour, by having an interest in organising events I can get peoples voices heard.
This year is year 11, it’s a big year for me, I need to focus on my GCSE’s so
I am going to have to take a one year break.
LISTEN TO AMMAN’S STORY HERE:
AMMAN’S COLLECTOR COMMENTS:
“I’ve known Amman now for around two years and what struck me about him was how incredibly driven and self-motivated he was to ensure young people had a voice and that their views were heard. He showed through Police Week how fearless he was, it was great to see him get stuck in and participate fully in all the activities, but where I was really impressed was seeing him in action making decisions about how funding should be allocate to support young people across the borough through the Innovation Fund He was at easy with senior decision makers and ask some really intelligent and relevant questions about the bids, you could see he wanted to get it right for others.”