Reflections from the 2023 MP of the Year Awards Ceremony: Mahvesh Ibrar

Mahvesh is a graduate of Patchwork’s 2020 Masterclass programme and currently works as a Senior Public Affairs Officer at the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS). As an advocate for diversity, equity and inclusion in the workplace she serves as co-chair of the RICS Race, Ethnicity and Cultural Heritage network and has previously served on workplace networks at HS2 Ltd and the Houses of Parliament. She is also passionate about social mobility and volunteers as a mentor at the Social Mobility Foundation.

Nominations for our 2024 MP of the Year Awards are now open! Let us know who your #MPoftheYear is by nominating now.

You co-hosted our 11th MP of the Year Awards with Ayesha Hazarika. Can you tell us about your Patchwork journey up to that point, and how it prepared you for that moment?

My Patchwork journey began in 2020, after a friend recommended the Masterclass programme. I took part in the programme virtually due to Covid but became part of the Alumni once I graduated. Since graduating and joining the Alumni, I’ve stayed involved with the Foundation in various ways. I continue to volunteer and help deliver Patchwork events, mentored a current Masterclass participant, and  was fortunate enough to take part in the 2023 International Visitors Leadership Program (IVLP). I have also recently joined the Patchwork Alumni Leadership Council. I also attended the 2021 MPOTY awards which helped me understand the logistics behind the evening as well as the importance and purpose of the event. As someone who wouldn’t naturally put themselves forward for speaking opportunities co-hosting the awards was definitely something out of my comfort zone but something I enjoyed and glad I did. Through the various Masterclasses and opportunities with Patchwork I’ve learnt more about public speaking and the importance of making yourself uncomfortable to grow professionally.  

Nominations are now open for our 2024 MP of the Year Awards. Why do you think it’s so important we recognise the work of MPs in building a more inclusive democracy? 

In politics it can be easy to paint all MPs with one brush or divide them between their parties rather than looking at what they are doing for their constituencies and communities as individuals. The Patchwork MP of the Year Awards is a way for individuals to nominate those who are building a more inclusive democracy and it’s important that we recognise those MPs as it highlights the work of those championing inclusivity and can inspire others to get involved in civic engagement and activism as they can see the positive impact political participation can have. It can also motivate those MPs to continue prioritizing policies and initiatives and raise awareness of the key work being done.

What were your key takeaways from the evening? Do you have any words of wisdom for current or future politicians?

My key takeaways are that whilst politics can be a space for everybody, there is still a long way to go. We need to ensure engagement and education if we want to see a diverse Parliament which truly represents the society we live in. The ceremony highlighted that there is some amazing work being done across the country to create positive change and amplify marginalised voices. Whether it be advocating on behalf of those most vulnerable, supporting left-behind areas in rural communities or helping those who are homeless, this work definitely deserves more attention. I also had a great time hosting the panel with Patchworkers who had graduated from the 2023 masterclass cohort and shared their thoughts on why representation is so important in politics. My words of wisdom for current politicians are not to underestimate young people. There’s a lot we hear in the media about ‘Gen-Z’ or ‘zillenials’ and that they’re not resilient enough or not engaged enough; but I think they’re passionate about what they believe in. It’s important that they engage with these generations, to not alienate them from democracy and to listen to their ideas. For future politicians, you should never be made to feel that you don’t belong in politics or places like the Houses of Parliament because of your age, your race or social background – democracy belongs to everyone. 

You recently completed our Patchwork IVLP. What do you think the UK can learn from the US’ community and political engagement? 

The International Visitors Leadership Program gave an amazing insight into different areas of community and political engagement across the US. One thing that I found interesting in Pensacola, Florida was how much engagement is done with young people in informing them on election processes and ensuring they are registered to vote. For example, the County Supervisor of Elections attends sessions at schools and colleges encouraging young people to vote. I think the UK has a way to go in political education and engagement of young people but we could learn from the US here.

Why is it important that young people #GetInvolved and get voting?

This year is going to be a busy election year, with local elections coming up in May and a General Election taking place later this year. It’s important that young people #GetInvolved and get voting. it is easy for young people to feel ignored by the government or made to feel like not voting won’t make a huge difference, but exercising your right to vote is a way of making your voice heard. It’s easy to feel powerless but voting is a way to take that power back, so do your research, read up on candidates and manifestos and make sure you vote! The Patchwork #GetInvolved programme is also a great way to gain greater knowledge on the internal workings of parties, politics and elections, something which not everyone gets the opportunity to be privy to.

Nominations for our 2024 MP of the Year Awards are now open! Find out more about the Awards, previous winners, and nominate your #MPoftheYear now.