This week I’m handing over to Thanusan Balakrishnan, who spent his half term with us last week on a work placement by the Social Mobility Foundation.
Let me tell you about my week at the office of Horsham’s MP, Francis Maude. Firstly, I would like to thank Mr Maude and the staff at his private office for taking exceptional care of me during my stay. I come out of this work placement with a greater understanding of the role an MP plays in expressing constituents’ views to decision makers – an example of this being their concern over the huge environmental impacts and noise pollution if Gatwick were to be given the green light to build their second runway.
Since Mr Maude holds responsibility as Minister for the Cabinet Office as well as being the Horsham MP, my time was split between the Cabinet Office and his office on the Parliamentary estate. After the ‘week ahead meeting’, a meeting which outlines Mr Maude’s duties for the coming week, I met all of Mr Maude’s staff and discussed their roles in helping him perform his duties effectively.
Cake helps too. The cake sale for the Samaritans’ charity left me very satisfied that day.
For the rest of the week, I was on the Parliamentary estate where I observed Horsham constituency case work, diary management and response to local issues.
I began the day by meeting Mr Maude. I admit I was somewhat nervous at first but it was soon obvious I had no reason to be since he was a very relaxed and inviting man. We discussed my A-level studies and my interest in politics. After our meeting, I was asked to compile a list of all the schools in the Horsham constituency, and record the MP’s visits.
The most memorable part of my work placement was undoubtedly the tours of Westminster and ‘Big Ben’. Westminster Palace is a truly spectacular landmark, and the concentration of history, culture and art in both landmarks is bound to capture public interest. It’s obviously a popular way to enrich children at half term.
All in all, I had a brilliant experience and was very fortunate to see what goes on ‘behind doors’.
I thank the Social Mobility Foundation, a non-profit organisation, for arranging this placement for me and the office of Francis Maude for hosting me.
Francis adds: I have been asked to draw attention to next year’s SMF programme, for which the application deadline is 9am on Monday 22nd December 2014.
High achieving year 12 students can find out more about the eligibility criteria and opportunities at www.socialmobility.org.uk.