As a popular tourist destination, the historical sights of Westminster - the Palace, Big Ben and the River Thames, to name but a few - are familiar to many. But for three of our Future Leaders, the imposing stone buildings that lie within minutes of our Prime Minister’s front door recently became a place of work.
The Social Mobility Work Experience Scheme is organised by the Chamber and Committees Team in the House of Commons. This department provides procedural expertise, research, impartial advice, and other services to support the work of MPs in the House of Commons and in Committees. The Scheme provides an opportunity for young people from under-represented backgrounds to develop their understanding of how Parliament works, and the variety of careers available there. The aim is to demystify Parliament, making it a place that it seems possible and desirable to work in, inspiring young people to apply in the future.
Fatema, Emily and Joshua are all interested in politics and were successful in their applications to the Scheme. The Future Leaders’ packed schedule included a tour of the key buildings, an afternoon watching a debate in the House of Commons, attending select committee meetings, and a talk with the Speaker of the House of Commons, Sir Lindsay Hoyle.
Each young person was assigned to a department or for the duration of the week, giving them the opportunity to develop a thorough understanding of how it operates, witness Parliament in action, asks lots of questions, and carry out some meaningful work.
Fatema, from Swindon, was placed with the Communications and Engagement Department. She said:
This is the fourth year that Villiers Park has participated in the Scheme, but this year was extra-special: not only was it a return to physical work experience after two years of Covid-related online delivery, but it was our first year running it as a residential, with all three Future Leaders and Villiers Park staff spending four full days in London. This enabled us to soak up some culture after long days of hard work, including a visit to Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre for a performance of Henry VIII.
Deborah Richardson, Villiers Park’s Director of Curriculum, accompanied the Future leaders on the trip and said:
Emily, from Hastings, is doing Politics at A-level and considering a degree in the subject. Like Fatema, she didn’t know much about what happens behind the scenes in Parliament prior to doing the work experience placement. How did she feel at the end of the week?