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Haverhill school student hopes to inspire others after being elected to the UK Youth Parliament




A student at a Haverhill school says he hopes to be a role model for people that have autism after being elected to the UK Youth Parliament.

Toby Birch, 12, has just been elected to be the West Suffolk and Bury St Edmunds member for the Suffolk Youth Parliament. Millie Ball was chosen to be his deputy.

The third candidate on the ballot paper, Stefan Tofanel, a year 7 student at Samuel Ward Academy in Haverhill, missed out on winning a seat.

Churchill Academy student Toby Birch, 12, pictured last year, has been elected to the UK Youth Parliament
Churchill Academy student Toby Birch, 12, pictured last year, has been elected to the UK Youth Parliament

Toby is a student at Churchill Academy in Haverhill, which specialises in educating people on the autism spectrum, and lives just outside Stowupland.

He outlined his reasons for standing, saying: "I wanted to improve mental health services because I have used them before and they were absolutely abysmal and I don't think that's right.

"I think mental health is one of the most important things.

Samuel Ward Academy year seven student Stefan Tofanel, who stood in the Suffolk Youth Parliament elections
Samuel Ward Academy year seven student Stefan Tofanel, who stood in the Suffolk Youth Parliament elections

"I wanted to prove that autistic people can get involved in things and be as opinionated as anyone else and be a role model for people who have autism, that you can do things even when you are young and I wanted to give young people a voice and a voice that's actually going to be be listened to.

"Most of the time MPs don't listen to young people because they are not one of their electorate because they don't get to vote.

"It has been a dream of mine for a long time. I have always loved politics.

"I thought i would try and I didn't think i would get on the ballot paper but i ended up winning."

Toby's manifesto focused on improving mental health provision for young people, being allowed to vote at 16, protecting the environment, having tougher punishments for hate crime and having a school curriculum for life, one that prepares young people to go out into adult life.

As part of his role on the UK Youth Parliament, Toby will take part in a televised debate at the House of Commons in November and attend a residential conference.