My interest in Politics led me to contact a local MP, Chris Heaton-Harris, who kindly offered me the opportunity to do work experience in Westminster, with him and his team. On the week commencing the 11th September, I set off on my travels to London and the unknown. My work experience was based in Portcullis House, and upon my arrival I was struck with a sense of belonging to something bigger than myself; it was slightly overwhelming. After passing through security, I was led on a whistle-stop tour of Parliament by Chris’ intern. Central lobby to Westminster Hall, you name it, we covered it. For the rest of my first day, I was trusted with a couple of constituent cases and some research which Chris needed completing. After a brief introduction to Sajid Javid (Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government), I ended the first day with a trip to the public gallery in the House of Commons to watch the second reading of the EU Withdrawal Bill. After having had a taste of the ‘London life’ and finding a love for commuting, I was eager to return the following day.
Tuesday was a whirlwind of research and more tours. One of the highlights for me was seeing the House of Lords and learning how the dynamics work. After eating in the Jubilee Cafe for lunch, I attended an extremely interesting talk on North Korea. My third day was by far the most interesting and the busiest day for me. Another tour entailed Her Majesty’s Robing room, and on our travels, I was lucky enough to see the Speaker’s Procession take place. I was fortunate enough to go to Prime Minster’s Question Time at 12 o’clock and watched from the VIP Gallery, above the opposition. Witnessing Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn in action was a memorable point for me as there was a certain excitement humming in the air through the session. Shortly after, we ate lunch in Bellamy’s – a favourite of Jeremy’s, I was told. So it was only fitting that he walked in just as we were sitting down to eat. After much debate around our table as to what he was going to eat for lunch, I was lucky enough to get a selfie with Mr Corbyn once he’d eaten. He was surprisingly shorter than I thought he was, and acted more like a grandfather than a politician. During Wednesday afternoon, Chris’ office attended a political action committee meeting regarding online VAT fraud. Representatives from Amazon and Ebay attended and were questioned about whether they were making profit from illegal sellers on their websites. To then read about this in papers such as the Times, the Daily Mail and the Independent the following day was quite surreal for me (the back of my head also featured in one of the Daily Mail’s article images).
After a lively Wednesday, I appreciated the slightly calmer Thursday to finish my week of work experience. I completed research projects I had been working on during the week and thanked Chris and his team for teaching me so much over the four days. I urge everyone to carry out some form of work experience whilst still in school, as it can offer many opportunities and open many doors. I was incredibly lucky to be involved in so many different events and cases over such a short time span and felt that my time in Westminster helped to develop my personal competencies and skills, as well as allowing me to discover new skills and learn valuable life lessons.
Shefali Nandhra, 6J2