AN aspiring politician from the Borders has enjoyed an audience with First Minister Nicola Sturgeon.

Sanna Aziz from Galashiels, who is a Member of the Scottish Youth Parliament, recently took part in a two-week summer trip to the United States through the Jo Cox Memorial Exchange programme.

The teenager briefed the First Minister on her return earlier this month about her trip along with some of the other young people from Scotland who took part.

Inspired by and in memory of the late MP who was murdered in West Yorkshire in 2016, the programme aims to continue Mrs Cox’s determination to resolve conflict in the UK and around the world.

The exchange is an opportunity for young people aged 16-24 to share ideas on how communities in both nations can work together to promote hope and inclusion while standing up to hate and extremism.

Sanna was one of hundreds of young people from across the country who were invited to apply because of their active engagement in promoting social cohesion in their local communities.

She said: “I was humbled to be given this amazing opportunity and to be able to expand my knowledge of the world and how it works.

“Since returning home, I have been sharing what I learned to try and make the Scottish Borders a more inclusive place.”

While in the United States, Sanna and her fellow participants spent time in a range of diverse communities, experiencing the contrast between vibrant urban communities as well as those which are struggling with the loss of employment in traditional industries.

There were site visits, discussions, workshops and professional appointments as well as time to enjoy cultural and social activities.

Sanna added: “The group of young people I went on the trip with were all different and yet united in their fight for the one common goal – fighting for equality.

“We had been given this great opportunity and wanted to ensure we made the best of it. I came back clear that I have work to do - I have a 12 month plan of things I want to achieve before I head off to university.”

Scottish Borders Council’s young people’s champion Councillor Scott Hamilton, said: “This was an amazing opportunity for Sanna and I have no doubt that she made the most of her experience.

“The visit to Holyrood was organised because it was felt that this should be shared at the highest level in Scotland so that the First Minister is aware of the amazing young people who reside within her country.”