Me & My Shadow: politics up close
In the latest placement in our Me & My Shadow mentoring scheme, NHS worker Alex spent the day with leading Labour MP Jess Phillips.
For MPs, Friday is a day spent far from the corridors of Westminster. They are much more likely to be found at a primary school assembly or a care home rather than in the House of Commons.
And it was this environment - a busy day spent in Jess's constituency - that Alex experienced. Jess, who serves as shadow minister for domestic violence and safeguarding, has become well known for her work on equalities issues and is an outspoken advocate for women's empowerment in the workplace.
As part of the day, Alex observed Jess speaking with her constituents to learn about the issues impacting their daily lives and attended a meeting with a local community group who organise activities for refugees.
Alex, who has had epilepsy since she was a teenager, has worked in a wide variety of roles in her life and signed up to Me & My Shadow to "meet inspirational women and hear their stories of how they “made it” and beat discrimination, both unintentional and intended."
Speaking of the day spent in Jess's Birmingham constituency, Alex said:
"I enjoyed meeting Jess Phillips and her team and seeing the work they do for the community and Jess's passion in her job. It has given me confidence to speak up and start initiatives if I want to in the future.”
Jess, who has represented Birmingham Yardley since 2015, said: “Shadow placements are a great way for people to learn more about the work of an MP and gain first-hand experience of the problems people are facing. It was great to welcome Alex for the day”.
Alex's placement with Jess was the fourth of our Me & My Shadow placements, which give women with epilepsy the opportunity to "shadow" for a day leading figures from media, politics, charities, sport, health and business.
Through the scheme we hope to build confidence and ambition in women with epilepsy and encourage them to think big. The current scheme is aimed at women between 18 and 35, but we do hope to expand to other ages and genders in the future.
Later in the summer, we have placements planned at leading media and science companies. Watch this space!