How did you come to work in Fleur’s Office?
I first met Fleur when I was a student ambassador for Water Aid whilst I was doing my undergraduate degree. She visited my University before she became an MP, in the run up to the General Election in 2019. She really encouraged us in what we were doing and it was inspiring to see someone who was previously Head of Campaigns at Water Aid entering the political space and standing for office. She was very down to earth and even took her Labour Party rosette off to have a photo taken with us.
A while later I was scrolling on LinkedIn and I saw the job advert posted on our university forum. I thought I would apply for it – even though I thought I wouldn’t get it! I took a shot and then a month later I was offered the role. It was a very pleasant surprise and I was so pleased to be given a chance.
When you first started was there anything that surprised you about working in an MP’s office?
The thing that surprised me the most is the amount of causes that Fleur advocates for. It’s always fast paced and there is always something new to fight for! Everyone in the office is so dedicated to helping people and it’s really inspiring just to see the amount of projects that everyone is passionate about, especially seeing how many causes Fleur wants to support. She always rises to the challenge and doesn’t give up. You don’t realise this but when you’re in an MPs office you aren’t just responding to emails and writing to the council, you are making sure that every single person in the constituency is having their issues championed. It doesn’t matter how big or small the issue is, Fleur treats it equally.
After your year in the office, what is it that you are most proud of?
One of things I’m very proud of is working with Fleur to organise our local Black Lives Matter events. We had one about health inequalities and the disparities that exist there. I worked with Fleur and some local activists to invite speakers and set up an online forum of constituents. It was great to connect local people who were interested with experts who are the leaders in their fields. It was amazing being a part of the anti-racism work that was going on in the office.
What was your biggest challenge in the role?
It was really special to be a part of so many virtual surgeries with Fleur but it was also a big challenge. COVID meant that we had to implement new ways to doing surgeries, which we ended up doing via Zoom. Sometimes you are talking about very personal and difficult issues with people during surgeries and it was so important to Fleur that everyone felt properly supported and listened to – as much as they would have done if we could have met in real life. I think we achieved that and it is something that I am very proud of.
What advice would you give to the next person taking up the role?
Always ask for help! The days are so varied and there is a lot to learn, so don’t be afraid to put your hand up when you don’t know something. Every single person in the office is so kind and helpful, and I always felt like I could go to anyone with a problem. That’s the first thing that comes to mind.
Also, take up things that you are interested in. If you are passionate about an issue, go for it and volunteer yourself to get involved.
What are you doing next and are there any lessons you learned in the last year that you will take forward with you?
I am going to finish my Masters in Environment Politics & Development. My goal is to do advocacy work and to work with global charities and organisations that lobby for environmental change to be recognised as a critical issue.
I want that work to always involve bringing local communities into the discussion. It might seem like a global issue that is far removed from us but in reality it does impact upon local communities. I want to champion people and working in the office has taught me how to do that and it has given me the will to never give up and to stand up for what is right.
I want to say a big thank you to Nasteha for all of her hard work over this last year!