A look into ParliREACH’s latest report into racism in Westminster

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Workplace racism and discrimination are more talked about now than they have ever been in recent memory. There exists a plethora of organisations and institutions whose purpose it is to draw our attention to racism at work, often shining light to reveal discrimination in places we did not expect. One place that we may not expect to find racism is in the civilised chambers of Whitehall.

2019 saw the highest number of Black and Minority Ethnic (BME) MPs elected to parliament. This means that Westminster now has 65 BME MPs. However, despite this historically diverse field many BME MPs and parliamentary workers still feel as though they suffer from racial discrimination.

In an interview for ITV Layla Moran, the Liberal Democrat MP for Oxford West, recounted an incident where she was told whilst working in parliament that she should “go home”. In a similar and equally disturbing event, Afzal Khan, the Labour MP for Manchester Gorton, was told to “go back to Pakistan”. In the same ITV interview Tullip Siddiq, the Labour MP for Hampstead and Kilburn, recalled an exchange she had with a colleague in which her fellow member of parliament had implied that Asian families are more likely to kill their female children than families of other ethnicities.

A recent report commissioned by ParliREACH, a workplace equality network that was set up to provide a forum for BME people who work in parliament, found numerous examples of racial discrimination within Westminster’s halls.

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Rough Sleeping in Westminster

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Many passholders and visitors have raised concerns about the people who sleep in the area around the parliamentary estate and have expressed a wish to help improve the situation for those living in such difficult circumstances.

Two events have been organised in conjunction with Westminster City Council and St Mungo’s so that you can learn more about their work and how you can help.

  • 13:00 – 14:00 on Tuesday 11 February 2020
  • 13:00 – 14:00 on Tuesday 3 March 2020

You can find the full details here: https://intranet.parliament.uk/business-news/news-current-issues/news/2020/february-/rough-sleeping-in-westminster/

Skype live Q&A session with the Director of Security

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On Tuesday 4th February from 14.00-15.00 MP’s and their staff are invited to a Skype live question and answer session with the Director of Security, Eric Hepburn, and Deputy Director, Emily Baldock.

This is the first time that security has done a live question and answer session via Skype and we hope that staff, who may not be at Westminster, have the opportunity to ask any security related questions they may have.

This Q&A is open to Members and their staff only.  If you would like to join, please sign up using the following link:

https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/security-qa-for-members-and-members-staff-tickets-90622324813

You can send your question in advance and anonymously.

Upcoming training courses

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Here is the current list of training courses that staff can sign up for.

Courses are free of charge to all Members’ staff who are paid through IPSA’s staffing allowance and travel costs to training events can be met from the expenses scheme administered by IPSA.

There are two new courses:

  • Managing Suicidal Conversations
  • Advice and Effective Casework Interviewing Skills

Full details can be found in the training section of the Parliamentary Intranet.

The full course catalogue is available via Act – the Parliamentary learning management system.

CourseDateRegion
Supervisory Management Course24.01.20Westminster
Conversations with Vulnerable People29.01.20Newcastle
Managing Suicidal Conversations - NEW COURSE29.01.20Westminster
Writing a Brief30.01.20Westminster
Role of the Office Manager Programme (CMI endorsed)31.01.20Westminster
- 3 day course - you must be able to attend all 3 days21.02.20
27.03.20
Essential Writing Skills for Members' staff04.02.20Westminster
Introduction to Welfare Benefits05.02.20Westminster
Conversations with Vulnerable People06.02.20Exeter
Personal Independence Payment (PIP)06.02.20Edinburgh
Speech Writing06.02.20Westminster
Essential Writing Skills for Members' staff07.02.20Manchester
Asylum and International Protection12.02.20Westminster
Media Handling and Social Media13.02.20Westminster
Universal Credit Overview13.02.20Westminster
Taking Control of Your Time & Speed Reading18.02.20Westminster
Advice and Effective Casework Interviewing Skills - NEW COURSE19.02.20Westminster
Personal Independence Payment (PIP)20.02.20Westminster
Essential Writing Skills for Members' staff21.02.20Cardiff
Members' Staff Induction24.02.20Westminster
Managing Suicidal Conversations - NEW COURSE25.02.20Westminster
Immigration Law26.02.20Edinburgh
Introduction to Welfare Benefits27.02.20Glasgow
Speech Writing27.02.20Westminster
Personal Independence Payment (PIP)04.03.20Birmingham
Writing a Brief04.03.20Westminster
Conversations with Vulnerable People05.03.20Westminster
Immigration Law09.03.20Cardiff
Advice and Effective Casework Interviewing Skills - NEW COURSE10.03.20Westminster
Universal Credit Overview10.03.20Leeds
Taking Control of Your Time & Speed Reading12.03.20Manchester
Media Handling and Social Media17.03.20Exeter
Immigration Law18.03.20Leeds
Asylum and International Protection19.03.20Manchester
Taking Control of Your Time & Speed Reading19.03.20Edinburgh
Immigration Law23.03.20Birmingham
Members' Staff Induction26.03.20Westminster
Universal Credit Overview26.03.20Glasgow
Immigration Law27.03.20Westminster

MP and Staffers’ guide to Mental Health

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The MP and Staffers’ Guide to Mental Health has been updated and is full of useful information on how to support and signpost constituents with mental health needs.  We highly recommend that you read this guide.

Here’s what’s in it:

  • Quick-reference guide
  • An overview of mental health
  • How much help should you give?
  • How to help someone in distress
  • Handling difficult emails and phone calls
  • Signposting and local information
  • Glossary

You can view it on the Rethink Mental Illness website here.

As an aside from those of us at W4MP who have been around for a bit: if you are new to the job you might just be thinking that you are the only one who has ever had to help constituents with mental health problems.  Everyone who has ever worked for an MP, and particularly those based in constituency offices and dealing with casework, tends to be surprised how much of an issue this can be, particularly in your first few weeks.  Hopefully this booklet will help you put things in perspective.  Good luck!

The leaflet is a joint production by:

New HMRC Guides for MPs and Staff

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Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs have updated their very helpful booklets, explaining how they can help you to help your constituents. The two booklets are:

  • HMRC Casework guide for MPs and Staff
  • HMRC guide for MPs managing their own tax affairs

They are available in the following formats:

  • English
  • Welsh
  • Accessible Version – English only

If you would like a copy of the updated versions, please email us, letting us know which version(s) you require.

*** Please note that we are only able to send these documents to current MPs and their staff with intranet email accounts.  It is not available to members of the public.

Wikipedia/Wikidata for new and returning MPs

Wikipedia Home Page
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As soon as the first election results were announced on 12 December, Wikipedians – the volunteers who write and edit Wikipedia – sprang into action, updating Wikipedia’s articles about the election itself, about every individual constituency, and about every single MP.

The volunteers also added data, including for example MPs’ websites, Twitter names and Facebook profiles, to Wikipedia’s younger sister project, Wikidata. That’s a database that provides online, queryable data (linked open data, in technical jargon) that is used to populate Wikipedia articles.

MPs staff are able to update Wikipedia and Wikidata, as long as they follow the guidelines for the sites. If you would like to do this then you may want to refer to our guides

Hive Support Agency: staff recruitment in Parliament

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We’ve been contacted by Hive. They say:

Hive Support

Hive Support

We provide an independent and professional service to MPs to assist with their recruitment and ongoing management of staff.

We have over 30 years’ experience of working in Parliamentary Offices and understand the unique relationship between an MP and their team. By outsourcing recruitment and HR to us we can relieve pressures from the office and ensure MPs and their staff have more time to focus on Parliamentary and constituency work.

Recruitment: If you are looking to work in Parliament, then get in touch with us via our website https://hivesupport.co.uk/recruitment/. We are currently recruiting for several MPs expecting to be returned following the election and are in contact with many more. We can currently only accept applications from those with previous experience of working for a Member or Peer.

HR: If you have worked for an MP before, you will know just how lacking HR support can be for Members and their staff. We offer support to Parliamentary teams and ensure that MPs are meeting the recommendations of the Inquiry into Bullying and Harassment of Parliamentary Staff; without adding additional burdens to already overstretched offices.

If you work in Parliament and need support or want to work in Parliament and would like our help to get you there, please get in touch today.

info@hivesupport.co.uk

https://hivesupport.co.uk

https://linkedin.com/company/hivesupport

About us:

Eve Burt and Sam Mackewn have over 30 years combined experience working in Parliamentary offices. Eve also Chairs a voluntary organisation and has responsibility for employment issues, including grievance and disciplinary procedures. Sam managed an employment rights centre offering legal advice to those experiencing difficulties at work.