In this 6th year of participation in UK Parliament Week (UKPW), Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh (HSS) UK – winner of UK Parliament Week official partner of the Year Award 2020 – hosted activities at 44 shakhas up and down the country.
Here is an overview of the initiatives undertaken by a spokesperson for HSS UK…
Now more than ever, the Hindu community has good reason to celebrate UK Parliament Week with Rishi Sunak stepping into No.10 Downing Street as our Prime Minister. The first Hindu Prime Minister of UK has injected renewed interest in a career in public life in the Hindu youth.
HSS UK has been featured as an ‘Impact Story’ of UK Parliament Education and Engagement. It was an opportunity especially for the youth to ‘have their say’ and ‘make a difference’ on the issues that matter to them the most. Shakhas, or branches, representing 34 constituencies and Council Wards across the United Kingdom signed up to be part of the conversation.
UK Parliament Week is a UK-wide festival which takes place in November. UKPW week activities aim to involve the entire population, including members of the Hindu, Jain, Buddhist and Sikh community in engagement with Parliament. Particular focus is given to empowering young people from different backgrounds and encouraging them to get involved.
Participants at shakhas from all four corners of the country had the opportunity to ask questions, think critically and engage with the UK Parliament and demonstrate that we are very much an integral part of a thriving democracy. A planned format included showcasing activities of the HSS UK including Khel and Surya Namaskar to the invited guests and conducting Parliament -style debates on topics ranging from the ‘Cost of Living Crisis’; ‘Yoga must be part of school curriculum’; ‘Government must put more resources in policing’; ‘NHS must be declared a national emergency’; and as expected, a heated debate on ‘Environment: Do Governments care?’
Balloting on these and other debated topics threw up some interesting results. There were discussions with Members of Parliament, Councillors and Mayors on the topic of ‘Online safety must be taken seriously’; ‘Single use plastics must be banned’; ‘Make Hindu Heritage Month Official’.
During the question and answer session with the invited guests, the issues raised indicated that even the youngest members were interested in learning more about parliament and the workings of the Town Councils. A number of shakhas held quizzes, presented videos on UK parliament and discussed how Parliament works.
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Nationally, we had the opportunity to interact with invited guests from across the political spectrum which included a local Mayor, local councillors, Members of Parliament and members of a local Hindu Community. MPs Theresa Villiers, Angela Raynor, Alex Chalk, Anthony Browne, Richard Fuller, Claire Hanna took great interest in the activities of the HSS and praised the work HSS does to bring awareness about workings of Parliament and holding conversations with our law makers.
Mike Freer MP for Finchley and Golders Green added: ‘HSS plays a huge role in ensuring that people understand the strength of our democracy, and we recognise the enormous part the Hindu community plays in our public life. Most recently we celebrate our first Prime Minister of Hindu origin in Rishi Sunak.’
Guests were impressed with the discipline and inspiring values of Sewa, Sanskar and Sangathan that HSS UK seeks to inculcate in the youngsters.
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We are excited that so many shakhas across the country got involved in UK Parliament Week 2022 and demonstrated how they can play a vital role in their democracy. Over 1,400 participants from shakhas up and down the country debated, balloted, enjoyed quizzes, had Q&A sessions with MPs and Councillors. This is what UK Parliament Week is: a celebration of democracy. We are promoting responsible citizenship through UKPW and the participants want to make a difference.
In 2021, UK Parliament Week reached almost 1.1 million people, with more than 10,000 activities. This year’s UK Parliament Week festival is expected to be the largest ever.
Annie Waddington , Senior Partnership Officer UK Parliament Week Engagement , said: ‘We are delighted Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh UK has taken the opportunity to participate in this year’s UK Parliament Week and inspire their members to get involved in their democracy and have their say on the issues they care about most.
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‘This year’s UK Parliament Week has been the largest ever with HSS UK demonstrating that it is truly a success story of UKPW.’
HSS UK is a charity established in 1966, with over 100 branches across England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. It runs weekly activities for the whole family, including sports, Yoga, health and fitness, as well as arts, cultural and educational seminars and lectures.