Reaching out to young people in the North

Picture of college students in an outreach workshop


Pictures of young people visiting Parliament and MPs in the Houses of Commons

Rachael Dodgson is the UK Parliament's Senior Outreach Officer for the North West, Yorkshire and Humberside. Over recent years, she has built a strong partnership with Northern, a train operating company. This has led to a series of opportunities to work with other organisations supporting young people and local communities across the North of England, including NCS and the Bradford City FC Community Foundation.

Rachael’s work with these organisations has created many opportunities for young people in the region to:

  • learn about Parliament's role and purpose;
  • meet with local MPs;
  • visit Parliament;
  • use their voice to bring about local change.

Local knowledge

Picture of Rachael Dodgson in a primary school

Rachael Dodgson (L), UK Parliament Senior Outreach Officer

Rachael Dodgson (L), UK Parliament Senior Outreach Officer

The Outreach team at UK Parliament is made up of 14 regional officers. Each officer is responsible for outreach activity with schools and communities in a given region, so it is important that they know the area well.

Rachael Dodgson comes from Holmfirth near Huddersfield and has worked extensively in and around the Yorkshire region. Currently based on the Lancashire coast, Rachael has spent many years building relationships with local organisations that have a similar focus on engaging with young people in the North West, Yorkshire and Humberside.

Key partner

Northern logo

Northern is the second largest UK Train Operating Company (TOC). It delivers 16,478 services a week, moving 1.5 million customers. Northern runs a range of public engagement programmes across the region that it serves, supporting young people and the wider community.

Forging a strong relationship

Picture of Richard Isaac and Rachael Dodgson

Richard Isaac and Rachael Dodgson

Richard Isaac and Rachael Dodgson

Richard Isaac is the Regional Community and Sustainability Manager for Northern. Based in Leeds, he spearheads the organisation’s work with schools, young people and community groups across the North, encouraging people to take an active role in helping to shape decisions about their local rail services.

Rachael first made contact with Richard during 2020. Despite there being restrictions on social contact due to the COVID pandemic, Rachael and Richard kept in touch via email and video calls, and developed a plan to work together on various activities.

Initial engagement

Picture of college students taking part in a workshop

During the COVID lockdown, the Parliamentary Outreach team took a strategic decision to focus its efforts principally on Further Education colleges. Richard Isaac introduced Rachael to other local organisations, who agreed to promote our outreach offer to FE colleges and secondary schools across Yorkshire and Humberside. This led to four workshops being delivered to colleges and schools in and around Bradford.

Picture of Robbie Moore MP outside Keighley College

In partnership with Northern, Rachael also organised a virtual session in April 2021 for students at Keighley College. The session informed students about the importance of getting their voice heard, the difference between parliament and government and the role of MPs and peers. It also included a Q&A with Robbie Moore MP (Keighley and Ilkley), pictured on the left.

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National Citizen Service


Through Rachael’s connection with Richard at Northern, she was also able to liaise with the Bradford City FC Community Foundation. This led to her delivering two outreach sessions in 2020 to young people in the Bradford area as part of the National Citizen Service (NCS) programme.

NCS empowers 15- to 17-year-olds to build skills and confidence whilst engaging with their local area. It also operates a graduate challenge that invites NCS participants to submit entries demonstrating how they have made a difference in their local communities.

In recognition of NCS graduates in the North of England, whose work had focused on tackling unwanted sexual behaviour, Rachael organised a special award ceremony at Parliament in 2021. This featured presentations by Caroline Nokes MP (Chair of the Women & Equalities Select Committee), Chief Inspector Lorna McEwan (British Transport Police) and Dominik Paczko (Head of NCS).

Richard Isaac and Rachael introduced the event. Following the presentations, the attendees had a Q&A with Hilary Benn MP (Leeds Central) and Holly Lynch MP (Halifax). The event concluded with a guided tour of the Palace of Westminster.

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Picture of an MP and students at an award ceremony

Hillary Benn MP (seated left) attending the award ceremony

Hillary Benn MP (seated left) attending the award ceremony

Picture of award winners and an MP standing in Westminster Hall

Award ceremony attendees in Westminster Hall; Holly Lynch MP front right, Richard Isaac (Northern) front left

Award ceremony attendees in Westminster Hall; Holly Lynch MP front right, Richard Isaac (Northern) front left

Raising issues at Parliament


In February 2023, Rachael teamed up with Pav Sembi from Bradford City FC Community Foundation to deliver a series of activities for young people who have been involved in a peer research project focusing on youth crime and violence in Bradford, including unwanted sexual behaviour on public transport. The research led to a range of important findings.

Image of an online workshop taking place

With Pav’s assistance, Rachael delivered an interactive online workshop to the young people supported by Bradford City FC Community Foundation about the role of UK Parliament, the work of Members, and how laws are made. Richard Isaac joined the session, to emphasise how important it is for people to speak up about issues that affect them and help to shape future decisions about transport services in their area.

As the video below shows, the session included lots of information about the various ways in which the young people could try to take action to raise the issues they have been researching at Parliament in order to bring about change:

Rachael arranged for the same group of young people from Bradford City FC Community Foundation to visit Parliament later the same month, to showcase the work they have been doing.

Picture of Philip Davies MP meeting the young people and reading their research

Philip Davies MP (left), meeting the young people and reading their research

Philip Davies MP (left), meeting the young people and reading their research

During their visit, the young people had a guided tour of the Houses of Parliament.

They also had the opportunity to meet with Philip Davies MP (Shipley) and Tanmanjeet Singh Dhesi MP (Slough), Shadow Minister for the Railways, to present their research.

This was a great way for the young people to use their democratic voice in raising issues of concern to them, with the aim of bringing about change in their local area.

A winning combination

Picture of Rachael Dodgson
"By working in partnership with Richard at Northern - and the organisations he has introduced me to - I've been able to reach far more young people in the North West, Yorkshire and Humberside on behalf of UK Parliament than would otherwise have been possible."
Rachael Dodgson (UK Parliament Senior Outreach Officer)
Picture of Richard Isaac
"Rachael and I share the goal of encouraging young people to get involved and use their voices to bring about change in their communities. It has been a pleasure to work with Rachael on so many activities and to help her get to know other local organisations with similar goals."
Richard Isaac (Regional Community and Sustainability Manager, Northern)

About us

Picture of people taking part in engagement activities

The Participation Team

The Participation Team at UK Parliament works on behalf of both Houses to deliver award-winning visitor services, outreach activities, educational programmes, learning resources, and opportunities for the public to engage with parliamentary business.

We promote Parliament’s unique role in our democracy, help to make Parliament relevant and accessible to all UK citizens, and show how people can get involved with Parliament’s work in different ways.

Picture of two community outreach sessions run by UK Parliament

How we can help you

  • We visit schools and colleges in person and online, to run free sessions for your students about UK Parliament and its work.
  • We offer EMPOWER! workshops, for adults with learning disabilities. These highly accessible sessions typically last 45 minutes and are adjusted around the needs of your group. They’re designed for a minimum of 10 people, including carers.
  • We also run SEND workshops, which are sensory based sessions aimed at pre-curriculum age students between 7-19 years old

Please get in touch to find out how the Participation Team can work with your organisation to deliver tailored outreach activities.

Further information and links

© UK Parliament 2022

Photo credit: UK Parliament/Jessica Taylor | Accessibility statement