RARE  RISINGSTARS - The UK’s Top 10 Black Students
rare logo
No. 3


Jacqueline Gomes-Neves

BA British Politics and Legislative Studies
University of Hull
Student Politics, Charity and Academics

In a country where politics is rejected by many for looking too old and too white, Jacqueline believes in the power of young people to affect their environment at a grassroots and institutional level.

Jacqueline, of Portuguese-Angolan descent, is a proud south Londoner. Brixton born and bred, she grew up with her mother.From a young age, Jacqueline was confronted by the socio-economic deprivation in her area. Many of her peers were either in gangs, in prison or had died. She began to question what drove these issues and quickly came to the conclusion that services for young people were underfunded and underprovided. Jacqueline knew she had to do something. She pooled together her friends and used the resources in a local youth club to run a campaign to get her elected as Lambeth’s Youth Mayor. Jacqueline became the first female Youth Mayor in 2013 with a margin larger than members on Lambeth’s Council. She was re-elected the following year.

“These are real people but they’re seen as statistics – their intelligence and ambition are being wasted.”

In her two years as Youth Mayor, Jacqueline consistently campaigned on behalf of disadvantaged young people in Lambeth and across the UK. Despite facing severe austerity cuts, Jacqueline launched several initiatives to involve young people in local politics and decision making processes. She founded the Brixton Youth Forum, a club that gave the power to young people to impact their local communities by influencing budget allocations, for example. Jacqueline campaigned to improve young people’s social mobility and employment prospects by running speed networking events connecting young people with senior barristers, journalists and other professionals. She also advised BBC Radio 1 and Radio 1XTRA on their #1millionhours campaign which aimed to get more young people across Britain volunteering in local charities.

Having a strong working ethic combined with the support from her family and friends are key reasons why Jacqueline feels she has been so successful. By bridging the gap between decision makers and those who are affected by their choices, Jacqueline has addressed some of the most pressing issues in the UK. In 2014, Jacqueline assisted with the founding of the Brixton Soup Kitchen to tackle homelessness in Brixton. The Brixton Soup Kitchen has grown into a nationally renowned charity and works with local and national companies including Nando’s. Beyond food, it also provides people with clothing, training and pro bono legal services as well as food. In July 2015, Jacqueline launched a report alongside Baroness Doreen Lawrence and Baroness Jowell to tackle the lack of community confidence in the police. A key recommendation from the report was for every frontline police officer to have a body-worn camera during stop and searches. By October 2016, the Metropolitan Police Service had taken a global lead by initiating the largest rollout of body-worn cameras by the police anywhere in the world.

As one of the leading community organisers in Brixton, Jacqueline was invited to become a Community Commissioner and now judges on the panel for the Brixton Fund, an investment fund that supports the local economy. In 2016, she won the Lambeth Community Award in recognition of her work and was nominated for the Black Youth Achievement Awards in 2015.

“Politics affects everything – decision makers need to be connected with those at the receiving end of these decisions.”

Jacqueline’s interest and impact in politics led her to secure a prestigious scholarship to study Politics, International Relations and Economics at the New College of Humanities, a private university in London. But the emotional strain of commuting long distances and not being able to explore her subject interests led Jacqueline to drop out during her first year. Now at Hull, studying the only course in the UK that requires students to spend a year in Parliament, Jacqueline has continued to make an impact through activism. She is the incoming Women’s Officer for the university and is developing a female empowerment organisation focusing on personal and professional development. She is also an advocate for the British Youth Council and for My Life, My Say, an organisation giving young people opportunities to influence decision-making particularly during the Brexit negotiations.

For Jacqueline, decisions taken on behalf of those who do not have a voice is “broad daylight injustice”. As a hopeful future Parliamentarian, Jacqueline intends to continue her mission of representing real people.

<   >