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UEL Chair of the Board of Governors Geoff Thompson tells the Commonwealth's young people to seize all opportunities

Mr Thompson gave the keynote this week at the launch of the CommonTies roadshow initiative

By Lee Pinkerton

In a rousing keynote speech delivered this week at Commonwealth CommonTies, Geoff Thompson MBE FRSA DL, the Chair of the Board of Governors at the University of East London (UEL), called on young people of the British Commonwealth to seize their opportunities.

Mr Thompson, a former Karate world champion, spoke about how sport helped him escape his deprived background. He said his first exposure to the Commonwealth was through the Commonwealth Games.

Mr Thompson said, “I fervently believe that sport and the arts are the vaccines and the antidote in helping to provide the mental, physical and emotional development of our young people”.

The CommonTies event, held at the Royal Overseas League in Park Place, London on 14 March, kicked off a series of roadshows which will take place in UK cities in the run-up to the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting and the Commonwealth Youth Forum in April. Events will continue in other cities throughout 2018.

Mr Thompson, who will also speak at the Glasgow roadshow, called on young people “to harness their passion and their ability to galvanise their communities and be the driving force that turns the theme for the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in April into a reality.”

Mr Thompson told young people to “not accept the label that is given to you. You are citizens of the world, and you have the right to your own identity.  

“Your social and cultural currency means you are engaged, equipped and empowered to compete at the multi-cultural top table of any path in life you choose. The 45-year currency of the Commonwealth movement is now yours to seize.”

The aim of the CommonTies roadshows are to support young people into work. They are being produced in partnership with Elevation Networks, a youth employment charity that focuses on social action and community engagement initiatives.

The events are an opportunity for young people to come together to engage in meaningful debate about the challenges and opportunities facing their Commonwealth, and provide a space for them to develop and share their ideas for contributing to a fairer, more prosperous, sustainable and more secure Commonwealth future for all young people.

The roadshows are taking place in London, Glasgow, Leicester, Cardiff and Manchester, but young people from across the Commonwealth are encouraged to get involved online using #CommonwealthYouth and following @ComSecYouth on social media for insights and live streams from the events. 

To find out more about the Commonwealth Youth Programme visit its website.