On the 14th October we welcomed the third cohort of the Speaker’s Parliamentary Placement Scheme to the House of Commons.
Over the nine-month duration the scheme places interns in an MP’s office for four days per week, while the remaining day is spent in a rotating placement across the House of Commons Service, as well as training and away days with the some of the scheme’s sponsors. This allows the interns to gain a unique and worthwhile experience of how Parliament and the world of business works.
The House of Commons Commission approved the establishment of the Speaker’s Parliamentary Placement Scheme, and launched the first cohort of interns on Monday 7 November 2011. The scheme, an initiative of Hazel Blears MP working with the Social Mobility Foundation, offers 10 paid internships to people from diverse backgrounds and helps to make access to and experience of Parliament more representative of the UK population.
Hazel Blears, Labour MP for Salford and Eccles, said: “I believe that valuable opportunities like these should be open to all talented people, regardless of their background or wealth. It was this belief that inspired me to set up the paid Speakers’ Parliamentary Placement Scheme and drives me in campaigning against unpaid internships. I have been thrilled by some of our interns’ success stories and hope the scheme will prove just as rewarding for its third cohort.”
The first two years of this scheme have been very successful; of the 2012/2013 cohort six out of the nine interns have secured jobs: five working for MPs and one with an external employer. Christine Longworth, from last year’s cohort said “This scheme has completely changed the direction of my life for the better. As well as securing an amazing permanent job, and being proud and fulfilled with what I do for a living for the first time ever, it has improved my own confidence, self-esteem and self-worth. I’ve made myself and my family proud, and I couldn’t have done that without the SPPS”.
Speaker Bercow kindly hosted the launch of this year’s placement scheme with a reception on Wednesday 30th October in his State Apartments. Also in attendance was Secretary of State Michael Gove MP, Hazel Blears MP and many other Members, Heads of Department and Corporate Partners who have supported the scheme, including the Social Mobility Foundation, which have supported the scheme since its inception.
One of this year’s participants, Felix Parker-Smith now working within the Office of Stephen Barclay MP, said “The Speaker’s scheme was fantastic as it has challenged the status quo, which appears to preference those who can afford to intern for free and those who have the privilege of living in London. It has truly helped people from a variety of backgrounds overcome social and geographic obstacles to gain political experience at an institution that previously appeared to be very closed to them.”
Another participant, John McKenna working within the Office of Alan Johnson MP, commented that: “the scheme has given me a chance to pursue a career in something I am passionate about, which I don’t think I would have been able to do without the support of the scheme. On a personal level, I have met a whole bunch of people both on and off the scheme who I am sure I will have lasting friendships with. Even though it’s still early days the scheme has a huge positive impact on my life both professionally and personally”.
If any Members of Parliament are interested in supporting the scheme by taking on an intern within their office, please contact the Jo Fletcher in the Diversity and Inclusion Team on extension x2948.
Applications for the 4th cohort will be open in March 2014. For more information please visit the Social Mobility Foundation website.
Further information can be also found on this intranet page: