VOLUNTEER Nicola Hullock, of Appleby, shared her experiences of helping tackle gender inequality in Bangladesh during a meeting with Rory Stewart, the international development secretary.

She was among more than 50 volunteers who met MPs and officials in Parliament to talk about UK aid and the positive impact it can have overseas.

Nicola spent 12 weeks in rural Bangladesh on an education project with the UK government-funded International Citizen Service.

She told Mr Stewart, MP for Penrith and the Border, about the importance of delivering projects abroad.

"I have first-hand experienced UK aid and the positive impact it’s had on a rural community in Bangladesh, and the power it has is unbelievable, incredible," she said.

Nicola also spoke about how her time in Bangladesh has inspired her to use her skills back home, such as a project to overcome "period poverty" for girls and women who access food banks in Eden and Carlisle and cannot afford sanitary products.

Nicola now works for Inspira, a personal development organisation, helping deliver the National Citizen Service programme in Cumbria and Lancashire, to develop life skills such as confidence, leadership and communication among young people.

She said she loved talking about her time in Bangladesh to those she worked with, adding: "My focus is to keep young people involved in social action in various ways.”

Mr Stewart said he had been "delighted" to meet so many young volunteers "with such practical and imaginative ideas on sustainable development".

"Through the International Citizen Service, my department, working with Voluntary Service Overseas, has helped nearly 40,000 young people to take part in hugely valuable development projects around the world," he said, describing the young people as "fantastic ambassadors".