A SUCCESSFUL Q&A event called Havering Asks was held at Havering College, at which around 150 young people had the chance to debate on the issues which matter to them.
The student question and answer session was staged by Havering Council, in partnership with the College, as part of their local democracy work with young people.
The debate - modelled on BBC's Question Time - is now in its fourth year and panellists comprised:
• Haras Rafiq, managing director of the anti-radicalisation think tank, the Quilliam Foundation.
• Greenpeace activist Roisin Robertson, who trained and worked as a journalist, and founded Bromley Against Fracking.
• Roger Evans, chairman of the London Assembly and Conservative GLA member for Havering & Redbridge.
• Mike Le-Surf, a Brentwood councillor and Labour's parliamentary candidate for South Basildon and East Thurrock.
• Cllr. Ian De Wulverton, a Havering councillor and member of the United Kingdom Independence (UKIP).
BBC World Service broadcaster Fred Dove chaired the debate for the second year running.
College students and pupils from secondary schools across Havering and Brentwood were invited to question the panel on issues which matter to them. Topics raised included migration, homosexuality and Britain's foreign policy, the gap between rich and poor, animal testing and whether Arts subjects limit careers.
A team of 43 Media students filmed the hour-long debate in The Space at the Ardleigh Green Campus in Hornchurch, Greater London, embracing such roles as director, producer, floor manager, cameramen and sound crew. Beauty students were the production's make-up artists.
The Havering Asks debate was streamed live on the internet and followed on Twitter with tweets fed into the broadcast.
Media students are now editing the footage to produce a DVD version of Havering Asks, which will be sent out to secondary schools. Another team of students are making a 'Behind the Scenes' video featuring an interview with Iain Lee from Channel Five's Big Brother spin off Bit on the Psych, who assisted with a rehearsal.
The panellists and chair Fred Dove were unanimous in their praise for the annual event which is co-sponsored by Havering Council.
Havering Asks director Frankie Harris, 17, from Chigwell, was in overall charge and responsible for the live internet production.
As the cameras stopped rolling, Frankie, who is in the second year of a Level 3 BTEC Extended Diploma Media course, said: "It went really well. There were some nerve racking moments at the beginning but it all came together brilliantly. I feel exhilarated. This is what I want to do for my future career."
London Assembly chair Roger Evans said: "There were thought-provoking challenging questions and it was great to see so many young people participating in this brilliant exercise. I appear on television a lot and Havering Asks is more professional than any of the commercialised television that I do. Havering College is clearly educating great television producers of the future."
Labour's parliamentary candidate for South Basildon and East Thurrock,
Mike Le-Surf said: "I really enjoyed it. It was very, very professional and it was just what I expected television to be like. It was great training. It was great for the students but great for us to talk to young people about what they believe in."
Media lecturer Andy Popperwell added: "Havering Asks was once again a wonderful opportunity to combine a lively debate for young people with a huge television production. I am proud of the Media students who produced an hour-long live show, working to high professional standards with high profile panellists and an experienced BBC broadcaster."
Cllr. Roger Ramsey, the Leader of Havering Council, said: "Promoting greater engagement with democracy, particularly among young people, is essential. Events like Havering Asks are a fantastic way to generate debate on key national and international issues that we should all be concerned with, and help young people get involved and interested in the big stories of our time."