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.
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/
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:
You can send your question in advance and anonymously.
Occasionally, w4mp is asked by constituents to investigate complaints about MPs. Unfortunately this is not something which is in our remit and we are not able to help.
Please see our guide to making complaints about an MP for further information.
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.
|Supervisory Management Course||24.01.20||Westminster
|Conversations with Vulnerable People||29.01.20||Newcastle
|Managing Suicidal Conversations - NEW COURSE||29.01.20||Westminster
|Writing a Brief||30.01.20||Westminster
|Role of the Office Manager Programme (CMI endorsed)||31.01.20||Westminster
|- 3 day course - you must be able to attend all 3 days||21.02.20||
|Essential Writing Skills for Members' staff||04.02.20||Westminster
|Introduction to Welfare Benefits||05.02.20||Westminster
|Conversations with Vulnerable People||06.02.20||Exeter
|Personal Independence Payment (PIP)||06.02.20||Edinburgh
|Essential Writing Skills for Members' staff||07.02.20||Manchester
|Asylum and International Protection||12.02.20||Westminster
|Media Handling and Social Media||13.02.20||Westminster
|Universal Credit Overview||13.02.20||Westminster
|Taking Control of Your Time & Speed Reading||18.02.20||Westminster
|Advice and Effective Casework Interviewing Skills - NEW COURSE||19.02.20||Westminster
|Personal Independence Payment (PIP)||20.02.20||Westminster
|Essential Writing Skills for Members' staff||21.02.20||Cardiff
|Members' Staff Induction||24.02.20||Westminster
|Managing Suicidal Conversations - NEW COURSE||25.02.20||Westminster
|Introduction to Welfare Benefits||27.02.20||Glasgow
|Personal Independence Payment (PIP)||04.03.20||Birmingham
|Writing a Brief||04.03.20||Westminster
|Conversations with Vulnerable People||05.03.20||Westminster
|Advice and Effective Casework Interviewing Skills - NEW COURSE||10.03.20||Westminster
|Universal Credit Overview||10.03.20||Leeds
|Taking Control of Your Time & Speed Reading||12.03.20||Manchester
|Media Handling and Social Media||17.03.20||Exeter
|Asylum and International Protection||19.03.20||Manchester
|Taking Control of Your Time & Speed Reading||19.03.20||Edinburgh
|Members' Staff Induction||26.03.20||Westminster
|Universal Credit Overview||26.03.20||Glasgow
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
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:
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:
- 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.
Do take a moment to watch this behind-the-scenes feature on what it’s like to be a new member on the BBC news website.
This was facilitated by the Commons Media Team and features interviews with General Election Senior Responsible Owner, Marianne Cwynarski and Managing Director of Research and Information, Penny Young.
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
We’ve been contacted by Hive. They say:
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.
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.