Tuesday, 7 July 2015

From the War Rooms to Westminster

by Eloise Peabody-Rolf

29th June to the 3rd July was ‘Enrichment Week’ at PGS.  For Year 12, the week included Sports Day, and UCAS Day focusing our minds on our university applications and particularly our personal statements. Then on Thursday we had Social Apprentice Day which enabled us to perform voluntary work and give back to the community. The final day of the week, we had a trip carousel, I went on the Politics trip to London.

After travelling up on the coach to London we first visited the Churchill War Rooms in the Imperial War Museum.  We were given time to explore the area, which was an excellent opportunity to find out more about Churchill himself, and also the situation in which Britain was placed in during the Second World war, and the reasons for Churchill’s decisions. He was certainly a determined man, and it surprised me the hours he was prepared to work - 18 hours some days, and his expectation of his co-workers to do similar.

On leaving the War Rooms, we had a short walk to the Supreme Court.  This is the final court of appeal in the UK for civil cases, and for criminal cases from England, Wales and Northern Ireland.  It hears cases of the greatest public or constitutional importance affecting the whole population. It was interesting to visit the court rooms, and learn more about their processes.

A short lunch break, and then the final stop of the day was to Parliament.  Politics students were lucky enough to be able to visit and have a tour around Parliament, for me, it was amazing to see first-hand all we had been learning about in our lessons for the past year, and it was inspiring to know that we have stood where decisions which change our lives have been made.

For me the visit to Westminster was particularly pertinent as, following the election, I had invited the newly elected MP for Fareham, Suella Fernandes , to meet the volunteers at the Hampshire Community Court which is operating in her constituency.  As a barrister herself Suella was keen to observe the youth justice initiative in action, and visited the team on 19th June.  I’m pleased to say she was impressed with what she saw and is keen to return to observe further cases.

As her host, I took the opportunity to ask Suella a few questions about how, six weeks in, she is finding life as an MP.  She kindly gave me her permission to share her first impressions.

Suella Fernanded, MP for Fareham
What is it like in the House?
When you arrive it is amazing, I’m not a historical person but when you’re in there the architecture is overwhelming. When you are there you can understand why it has been called the ‘Mother of Parliaments’.

What was it like making your maiden speech?
From about 15 or 16, I dreamed of making a maiden speech, so when it finally happened it was a dream come true and, although I was nervous because of the other MPs in the House, I was very excited and received a lot of warm support from across all the parties.


You mentioned that you have had this dream from about 15 or 16. Did this all begin when you used to help your parents? Were your parents an inspiration to you?
Yes my parents were an inspiration. You spend your time on a Friday night volunteering at hearings and, although I never had that experience, I spent my Friday night campaigning with my parents, and in a way it was a hobby. Not only did I find it interesting, because it is all based on the society you live in, but also about your rights and the identity as well as your country. It is also a sociable event, you campaign with the same people and you have common interests and I’ve made lifelong friends from this, you also gain leadership and public skills. The role also is of public service but it allows you to help relate to people.

What will your priorities be in Parliament?
My priory is education, I have started a free school and I believe that school is there to realise your potential and I want to make it equal, and not have it based on how much you earn or which postcode you come in, and I believe the difference and inequality have become exacerbated in the education system.

It’s been 6 weeks, from the 7th May, since you were elected - is there anything which is surprising or you didn’t expect since taking your seat?
The main thing I wasn’t expecting was that the Palace of Westminster is like a maze, there are corridors and staircases everywhere.   I actually found a secret doorway and, although I was intrigued at first, I have to admit I got nervous!  The other aspect which I found surprising was the friendliness of the people working there.

Was this just from your party or cross-party, as I have heard that the House can be a hostile place?
The friendliness and warmth came from everyone and there are a lot of cross-party friendships, although you are in different parties it’s because you have different perspectives on the same overall views. For example I’ve had a chat with Alex Salmond and Keith Vaz.

Who would you say your inspirations are in terms of politicians?
That’s a hard question, firstly I would say Margaret Thatcher, not just when she was the Iron Lady but as an MP, this is because, not only was she a woman, she had been a barrister like myself and she broke through a glass ceiling. Thatcher also had a family and gained the respect of her peers, whilst taking the role of an MP. Another inspiration is Winston Churchill for his courage and the respect he gained. Also figures such as Obama and Mandela, and there are many more.

I would loved to have talked for longer, however Suella had other commitments.  I greatly appreciated the interest she expressed in the Community Court’s activities, also the first impressions she kindly shared with me of her exciting new role.




















Portsmouth Point blog article 06/07/15

From the 29th June to the 3rd July, we had enrichment week. As many of you probably know Sixth Form were also involved in this and starting with Monday being mufti day and normal lessons continued. Tuesday began the rest of the week of no lessons, with Sports day in the afternoon, which was luckily a beautiful sunny day, and Wednesday was UCAS day, where we had a talk from someone from Southampton University and allowing us time to work on our personal statements. Finally on Thursday we had Social Apprentice day allowing us to work in and give back to the community. The final day of the week, we had a trip carousel, I went on the Politics trip.
After travelling up on the coach to London we first visited the Churchill War Rooms in the Imperial War Rooms, and we were given time to explore the area. This was very interesting and excellent opportunity to not only find out more about Churchill himself but the situation in which Britain was placed in and the reasons for Churchill’s choices. One thing which was surprised me was how determined he was and the hours he was prepared to work, 18 hours some days, and the expectation of his co-workers to do the same.
Continuing on with the day we had a short walk to the Supreme Court, and is the final court of appeal in the UK for civil cases, and for criminal cases from England, Wales and Northern Ireland. It hears cases of the greatest public or constitutional importance affecting the whole population.
A short lunch break, and then the final stop of the day was to Parliament. Politics students were lucky enough to be able to visit and have a tour around Parliament, for me, it was amazing to see everything which we had been learning about for the past year, and it was inspiring to know that we have stood where decisions which change our lives have been made.
It also related to a recent visit we had to Community Court, newly elected MP, Suella Fernandes attend Community Court and I was able to ask her a few questions about what it is like to be an MP.
What is it like in the house?
When you arrive it is amazing, I’m not a historical person but when you’re in there the architecture is overwhelming. When you are there you can understand why it has been called the ‘Mother of Parliaments’.
What was it like making your maiden speech?
From about 15 or 16, I dreamed of making a maiden speech, so when it finally happened it was a dream come true and, although I was nervous because of the audience, she was very excited and received a lot of warm support across all the parties.
So you mentioned that you have had this dream from about 15 or 16, and did this all begin when you used to help your parents? Were your parents an inspiration to you?
Yes my parents were an inspiration, you spend your time on a Friday night volunteering at hearings and although I never had that experience I spent my Friday night campaigning with my parents, and in a way it was a hobby. Not only did I find it interesting, because it is all based on the society you live in, but also about your rights and the identity as well as your country. It is also a sociable event, you campaign with the same people and you have common interests and I’ve made lifelong friends from this, you also gain leadership and public skills. The role also is of public service but it allows you to help relate to people.
What will your priorities be in Parliament?
My priory is education, I have started a free school and I believe that school is there to realise your potential and I want to make it equal, and not have it based on how much you earn or which postcode you come in, and I believe the difference and inequality have become exacerbated in the education system.

It’s been 6 weeks, from the 7th May, since you were elected - is there anything which is surprising or you didn’t expect since taking your seat?
The main thing I wasn’t expecting was that the Palace of Westminster is like a maze, there are corridors and staircases everywhere.    I actually found a secret doorway and, although I was intrigued at first, I have to admit I got nervous! The other aspect which I found surprising was the friendliness of the people working there.
Was this just from your party or cross-party, as I have heard that the House is a very hostile place?
The friendliness and warmth came from everyone and there are a lot of cross-party friendships, although you are in different parties it’s because you have different perspectives on the same overall views. For example I’ve had a chat with Alex Salmon and Keith Vaz.
Who would you say your inspirations are in terms of politicians?
That’s a hard question, firstly I would say Margaret Thatcher, not just when she was the Iron Lady but as an MP, this is because, not only was she a woman, she had been a barrister like myself and she broke through a glass ceiling. Thatcher also had a family and gained the respect of her peers, whilst taking the role of an MP.
Another inspiration is Winston Churchill for his courage and the respect he gained.
For me this was of a great interest as Mark Walsh was able to research the Community Court Project and travel to America, thanks to the award of a Winston Churchill Fellowship Trust.
Also figures such as Obama and Mandela, and there are many more.



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