World Merit had a Great time in Liverpool

WMTown Hall

The Lord Mayor of Liverpool, Cllr Malcolm Kennedy, and the Lady Mayoress welcomed us to the Town Hall and waved the flag for World Merit

10 days ago, I wrote a blog telling you a bit about World Merit and our pioneering Merit 360 programme which was bringing 100+ young people to the UK. Yesterday we came to Liverpool from the base at Chester University and we had a very good day indeed.

First up was a visit to Liverpool Town Hall. We couldn’t see all of it because a wedding was taking place later on the first floor but we could see the dome by going halfway up the stairs; the ceremonial silver; the Hall of Remembrance and we then met to discuss things in the Council Chamber. As you might expect delegates were wowed by the Town Hall but even better than that was an excellent speech made by the Lord Mayor, Cllr Malcolm Kennedy.

In a speech, straight from the heart, he urged young people to get involved in the political process and take power quickly. He told the young people from 48 countries that both he and I had started at a very early age and that we were both driven by an idealism to change the World – a passion that is still burning in both of us. He suggested that we all need to be involved in internationalism because that is the way to break down barriers between countries; between faiths and between communities. Internationalism must start in Liverpool where we continue to work with all the communities in the City (from more than 110 Countries) to bring them together into one big Scouse community.

Fortunately, that echoed what I had said earlier and emphasised that in Liverpool Council most of us believe pretty much the same things. Our debates in the City are crucially about the 5% difference between us but increasingly looking at the competence rather than direction of delivery.

We then went to the Parish Church of St Nicholas where David gave us an enthralling history of Liverpool and the Church from the 800s to the present day in about 30 minutes. This was important for the delegates because it created a realisation that if we are to change things we have to think big. Even if we can only do small things we must be sure that they fit into a bigger, long-term picture which will deliver long-term change. Again, the delegates were fascinated by the marvellous building that St Nicholas’ is.

From there we walked along Canada Boulevard to the Museum of Liverpool Life. On the way, we talked about the 3 iconic buildings and, of course, most people had their pictures taken at the Beatles Bronze statues.

Inside the Museum there was an incredibly well produced film about the past of ‘Lyverpul’ and the relationship between the City and the World. The film was a ‘warts and all’ presentation of the facts of trade, slavery, affluence and squalor. It has been produced as part of the “Hope and Glory” exhibition. Both the film and the exhibits are well worth a visit. This stimulated all sorts of questions about slavery, trade and the current state of Liverpool. Both Cllr Kennedy and I had earlier made the same message about slavery. We must not forget the past and our role in it or we are in danger of repeating it.

Then we wandered through Liverpool One to the World Merit HQ in the Tea Factory. This gave us the opportunity to look at both the regeneration of Liverpool and some of the excellent buildings that have been created but also reminded us of how much there is still to do.

Then on to an excellent feast in St John’s Market. I have been in there a lot lately helping the Traders with their problems and I have discovered that in the Food Court there is an excellent Portuguese Cafe and an Excellent Italian one. So, we took our delegates to eat there. The food was superb and very informal- just what the delegates wanted to unwind after a busy day. I strongly recommend anyone in the City Centre during the day to pop in there for excellent snacks and meals.

Lastly, the delegates returned to the Beach at the Pier Head. I haven’t got a clue about what happened there. I cried off after the meal and went home for tea!

So, it was a great day in which 130+ people who will be influential in the world in future learned to ‘Love Liverpool’. Some of them are already making plans to return.

In my last blog, I said that I would try and learn new tricks by spending time with the delegates which I did on 3 occasions. I didn’t so much learn new tricks as to have three things confirmed and to get back an urge to do something about them.

Firstly, we must be an outgoing City and an outgoing Country. The petty, inward looking discussion from our Government and Jeremy Corbyn will leave our Country as a small, powerless island off the coast of the great European Continent.

Secondly, we need more women in politics. More than half the delegates are women. Some of them come from Countries where it is very difficult for women to advance. But all of them, including the ones from the UK live in a country where it is difficult for women to advance. Just look at how few women business leaders or how few women council leaders there are. Liverpool Lib Dems will shortly be selecting and announcing their candidates for next Year’s elections. I have no doubt that there will be a significant number of women candidates in the seats we expect to take from Labour.

Lastly, we need more young people in politics. It is, of course, correct that young people do not have as much knowledge and experience as those longer in the tooth, but those shortages are more than replaced by their ability to think differently and the enthusiasm they can bring. Again, my Party will be announcing a range of candidates which range from old codgers (like me) to young thrusters.

Liverpool should be very proud to have as one of its enterprises a Charity/social enterprise like World, Merit which can bring people like these youngster to our city. For every one that came to Liverpool it is currently working with about 500 youngsters all over the world on things that will change their community and jointly change the world. If you would like to join the World Merit Team either as a young changemaker or an older supporter you be very welcome. Just look at our details at www.worldmerit.org.

 

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About richardkemp

Leader of the Liberal Democrats in Liverpool. Deputy Chair and Lib Dem Spokesperson on the LGA Community Wellbeing Board. Married to the lovely Cllr Erica Kemp CBE with three children and four grandchildren.
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