On the 16th January 2017, the Council of Portsmouth Students (CoPS) gathered in Westminster at the prestigious House of Commons. Centred around CoPS members both past and present, the evening was hosted by Unloc Student Forums and celebrated fifteen years of student voice in Portsmouth.
Alongside the students in attendance, various influential local figures from both politics and education joined to celebrate the group’s achievements. Local MPs Flick Drummond and Penny Mordaunt were joined by former Secretary of State, Sir Vince Cable. In addition to the guest speakers, there were music performances from local budding musicians.
CoPS – a youth led organsiation – has been working to strengthen the voice of the 25,000 young people in Portsmouth and offer a forum for cross-city debate since 2004.
‘Going into CoPS’, remarked Jack Green – the organisation’s former chair, ‘I knew very little about what it was or the long history of achievements they had reached. Very quickly however you’re made to feel important, like someone who can actually make a change, something that school never gave me.”
Previously ran by the City Council, the group lost its support in 2011. As a result, CoPS was taken over and reshaped by Unloc Student Forums, as per the requests of young people at the time.
Matt Foster, Head of Unloc Student Forums, praised the group’s efforts:
‘It has been inspiring to see so many Portsmouth Schools investing in young people and Youth Voice in the area and adopting these policies within the school ethos. It is an absolute privilege to work with CoPS who have become influential in shaping educational services for 15 years and has become the leading representation of young school aged people in our city. “
The celebrations held at Westminster on the 16th January were a tribute to these fifteen years of youth-led activism and community collaboration in education. More highlight images of the night can be seen below:
You can see more of the work that Unloc Student Forums does, on the twitter account here.