I’m Anusha, a Lower Sixth student at KEHS. I have been passionate about political activism and student journalism since I got my first taste of community engagement at KEHS in Lower School. The values and community-driven ethos instilled in KEHS drove me to become a member of my local youth cabinet at the start of Lower Fifth. Since then, in my post-GCSE summer, I’ve been appointed as a Member of European Youth Parliament and Chair of Worcestershire Youth Cabinet. I have also founded the UK’s first independent student and youth-centric newspaper and magazine, Per Capita.
‘Just because you are not interested in politics doesn’t mean politics won’t take an interest in you’. This quote from the KEHS politics board, which many students walk past daily on their way to the library, is one that I deeply resonate with. KEHS has played a key role in shaping my passion for youth politics and student journalism through instilling a strong sense of community, from my early roles as a Form Leader, Community Service and Wellbeing Representative for my class from Thirds until Lower Fifth. Our school’s students have had an educational experience unlike any other as we came to reckon with the pandemic. I found it incredibly difficult to engage with the community in the way I wanted to during lockdown. As the world gradually re-opened, I wanted to engage and make a mark on my local community outside of KEHS. That’s why I joined the Worcestershire Youth Cabinet.
I was initially struck by just how small some local Youth Cabinets are, which I think is symptomatic of a wider unawareness, disillusionment and lack of engagement of students in the political scene. Youth Cabinets allow you to join campaigns and canvas your local councillors on topics that are meaningful for you and other students. Here are just a few of the issues I’ve contributed to in the county council: I chaired a youth cabinet meeting with senior councillors about retaining biodiversity, flooding in the River Severn and fish passes in accordance with our sustainability and environmental campaigns; I’ve co-chaired a meeting discussing the independent scrutiny of children safeguarding with the Chairman of the children and family panel, focusing on child care and mental health; and shaped how council funding goes towards youth endeavours as well as improving train-route accessibility in Worcester. I was recently featured in the Bromsgrove Standard and on the Worcestershire County Council website for my work.
If you aren’t actively looking for platforms to engage in youth politics, you will not find them. I’ve found this incredibly concerning and have been promoting my youth cabinet on social media, leading to a quadruple in our committee size. Now, I’m increasingly focused on expanding my reach to tackle youth issues on an international stage. Winning a Best Delegate award at the inaugural King Edward’s School Model United Nations (MUN) this year gave me the confidence to engage with the British Youth Council and European Youth Parliament (which transcends current UK-EU relations, recognising the universality of youth sentiment across the UK and Europe). Joining MUN and other public speaking societies at KEHS allowed me to feel more confident in presenting to a large audience which proved invaluable when presenting to a crowd of over 1000 at national events.
My passion for Politics and Economics led me to set up a personal ‘blog’, which received lots of supportive feedback from the KEHS community. Now, with help from my brother – an Old Edwardian, Suchir Salhan, now in his fourth year at Cambridge University studying Computer Science – I’ve established a fully-fledged independent student newspaper and magazine publication, Per Capita. I’ve collaborated with student journalists from Oxford and Cambridge University publications like Varsity to build a growing community of young people engaged in politics/journalism and the arts – the next generation of politicians, creatives and activists. I’d highly encourage all students at KEHS, KES and the Consortium to consider contributing as an editor or a writer! This is a fantastic way to become involved with youth politics and is a platform to launch into the world of journalism and politics in the future.
While it’s still incredibly challenging to find the opportunities to become involved in youth politics, I want to help everyone with a genuine passion for youth activism and political engagement through Per Capita to bring about the change you want to see.