It’s a big couple of weeks for the young people of Hartlepool.
Last week saw A-level results, with many young people now thinking about university and a big new chapter in their lives.
Today is GCSE results day for 16 year-olds (and of course others).
They will be deciding what to do following those results, either to continue with education in the traditional sense, by starting A-levels, or embarking upon a career with employment or an apprenticeship.
I get a high number of young people contact me about a huge range of issues.
I don’t accept the notion that young people are not interested in politics – I think many young people are passionate about particular issues, whether it is the environment, animal welfare or foreign affairs.
I like the fact that they are interested in the “big stuff” affecting our country and the world.
I also like the fact that they are talking about issues which matter directly to them.
The prospects for the next generation are more difficult than for previous generations.
It has been an implicit belief that the next generation will do better than your own generation.
That was something pushed by my parents – they encouraged me to work hard and wanted me to have a better life than they did.
I want the same for my kids, like all parents do.
But the young people who received their A-level results last week or their GCSEs today face a world that is more complex and less certain than ever.
Does the economy work for them, so that they will be able to have a good, fulfilling career with high skills and high pay, or will they have to endure sporadic work on zero hours contracts?
Will they be able to afford suitable housing for themselves and for when they start a family?
This may not be necessarily an issue here compared with in London, but the notion of getting enough money to pay for a deposit on a house is still daunting for many young people in Hartlepool.
Many find it equally difficult to rent somewhere of decent quality with security of tenure.
This is why the opinions of young people matter, and I believe it is right to get them interested in politics early.
That is why I want to commend the work of the Youth Parliament, which has done great work in demonstrating to young people the importance of democracy and engagement in politics.
I particularly want to applaud Shay Miah, Hartlepool’s youth parliament representative, who ensured that the North-East regional event for young people took place earlier this month in Hartlepool.
Shay is playing a big part in the Make your Mark event. This is the UK Youth Parliament’s annual ballot of people aged between 11 to 18 years of age, asking them what they wish to discuss and what the issues are that matter to them.
This initiative runs from August 12 until October 10, and the results of the ballot will directly influence what Members of the Youth Parliament will discuss in the House of Commons on November 14.
A few short years ago, about 7,000 young people took part. Last year, an astonishing 470,000 young people participated.
Shay is aiming to get at least 7,000 young people in Hartlepool engaged and he is working on attending events in schools and colleges across the town to raise the profile of Make your Mark.
These are important issues, and young people will vote on issues that directly affect them, their families and their futures.
With his determination, I am sure Shay will succeed in ensuring that Hartlepool, once again, is a winner in encouraging young people to participate in democracy.
That can only be a good thing for the long-term future.