Dunya Simões lives in Lewisham and is a year 12 student at Prendergast School Sixth Form. Last week, she spent three days in Vicky’s constituency office and two days in Parliament for her work experience. On her final day, she wrote this blog about her time in an MP’s office.
When I mentioned that I was doing work experience with our MP, many of my peers automatically thought of an important person waddling around our country’s prestigious Parliament not doing much for the people. Having spent a week with Vicky and her team, I can assure you the popular belief couldn’t be more wrong.
Pen in hand, I began my week in the local constituency office learning the ropes of running such a vibrant constituency. As time went by, several constituents visited the office seeking help and advice on their issues as I was working away. What a lot of people don’t realise is that behind the scenes of Vicky, lie a hard-working, attentive team of staff to ensure every single one of us has a helping hand. I was able to gain more of an insight on the types of local problems many people face in our community and the different ways there are to help.
The setting was contrastingly different on the next day as I stepped out Westminster station to start my day in Parliament. To really make sure I was an expert politician by the end of the week, the team organised a Parliament tour for me in which I learnt many historical facts -great for an A-level history student! As I was sorting through mail and helping to organise the website, I saw several people come in and out of meetings with Vicky as she recently achieved the exciting title of Shadow Minister for Civil Society. I was even fortunate enough to attend a Labour Party meeting with Vicky with numerous other Labour members and even Tom Watson present! I genuinely felt like I was a part of the team. A slightly surreal moment.
After having had a bustling day in Central London, I was able to wind down in the Lewisham Deptford office the day after. Throughout the day, I got into the nitty and gritty of working for an MP by making blog posts, organising data and sorting through paperwork non-stop. My interest for our local politics was vividly increasing and by the end of the day, I made a mental note to myself to make sure I get stuck in to more local events.
It was back to Portcullis House for me on Thursday for quite an interesting day. After having previously mentioned to Reshima, Vicky’s researcher, that I was interested in gender politics and feminism, she kindly organised for me to attend the Northern Ireland Bill: consideration of Lords amendments debate in the House of Commons. Through the glass window in the public gallery, I witnessed various MPs debate and discuss the recent controversy of the Parliament involvement in Northern Ireland, abortion and equal marriage rights in Northern Ireland. As I saw the Speaker announce that both amendments in the Bill were successful, I felt so fortunate to be part of this historic moment. I was lucky enough to see the Prime Minister from afar and even Jeremy Corbyn! Emotions were high as I exited the exciting debate. It was beyond a surreal moment this time.
My roller-coaster week ended on an emotional note as I shadowed Vicky in her constituency advice surgery, after having worked in the local office for the morning. Every fortnight, Vicky and her team have an advice surgery for constituents which acts as an extra helping hand for the ongoing matters of Lewisham Deptford.
During the week, I felt as if I was part of a bigger picture in helping our constituency’s gears run smoothly. Stepping in and out of Portcullis House made me feel as if I was part of the important political atmosphere of our nation. But the most important thing I captured throughout the week was the amount of effort, dedication and perseverance Vicky and each member of her team puts in to represent Lewisham Deptford. If you’re interested in politics, want to see how issues are taken care of or see how our MP manages to juggle her constituency, national matters and her Party all in one – work experience with Vicky Foxcroft might just be the one for you.