A Level Professional Honours Programme students were provided with an amazing opportunity this week when they heard from Alistair Campbell, best known for his work as Director of Communications and Strategy for Prime Minister Tony Blair between 1997 and 2003.
The prominent British journalist, broadcaster, political aide and author of two books on mental health answered a range of questions fielded by students in a live video chat.
Spending almost two hours, he discussed in a very insightful and open way, about everything from current politics, Donald Trump’s reign of power, the state of media (and its role in politics) to Labour’s handling of the Iraq war.
Now a mental health campaigner, Mr Campbell was impressed with the questions students asked him.
“It was a real pleasure to talk to Wigan and Leigh A Level students, and take their questions. They were not just interested in politics and political issues, but well-informed and worried about a lot that is happening in the world right now.
“We also discussed mental health, and I was pleased that they were later going to be discussing some of the ideas I have broadcast and written about in the past, to help deal with mental health challenges.”
Mr Campbell kindly promising three of the students (Abigail Lythgoe, Drew Whittle and Abbi Breeze) the opportunity to choose one of his books which he will send for free.
He also demonstrated to students his ‘jam jar’ analogy when talking about managing mental health to discuss ways in which they could ‘extend their jam jar’ to make them more resilient to life's challenges.
Psychology Lecturer, Jonny Evans said: “It was a real privileged for Alistair to agree to talk to the students. His experience in the corridors of power at number 10 and his wide knowledge about how political institutions impact society were a joy to interrogate him on.
“The students did us proud asking insightful and thoughtful questions spanning from the Iraq war to how he believed he and Tony Blair would have managed the COVID crisis differently to his experience of mental health, his work with mental health charities and how things need to change in terms of funding for mental health services.”
Former Shevington High School pupil, Abigail Lythgoe who studies on the A Level – Health Professional Pathway at the college found the talk extremely informative and interesting.
“I found Alistair’s talk very enlightening into the world of politics and mental health - a very grey area for a young person such as myself. I found it particularly useful as I now feel more enthusiastic and educated about politics and how it now and will inevitably affect my own life as someone who will be allowed to vote in a few short years.
“I found the way he answered questions very interesting and entertaining and can now add him to a growing list of people to look up to as a role model.”
Mr Campbell was invited by Jonny Evans to be part of the students’ Professional Development Day (a day used on the Professional Honours Programme to explore industry and wider cultural capital and wellbeing).