Livewire - July 6, 2011

WED LIVE WIRE - Katie McGowan, 21, Blackpool intern to local MP Paul Maynard
WED LIVE WIRE - Katie McGowan, 21, Blackpool intern to local MP Paul Maynard
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By Kate McGowan, 21, Blackpool

Internships – the word has been thrown out by the media to describe underpaid, overworked students grasping at straws to try to venture into politics, only to be met with sneers or plant watering duty.

Being avidly interested in politics, I decided to approach my MP Paul Maynard, to see if I could get involved with politics in my area.

Coming from a low-income background and being unemployed, it was daunting to ask what internships were available. I was not even expecting to receive a response back! However, chief of staff Simon Renwick invited me over for an interview, and I’ve been interning at Paul’s Queen Street office for a couple of months now.

It has presented me with a variety of learning experiences and challenges, a wealth of contacts, and a real insight into how politicians are working hard to shape Britain today.

From election campaigns and the AV referendum to following up policy and petitions on a local and UK-wide scale; it’s been interesting to see the work an MP does, not only from a party political point of view, but as an elected representative.

Paul spends much of his time getting the important matters which face the people of Blackpool North and Cleveleys discussed and addressed in Parliament.

Reading, logging and responding to masses of post, email and phone calls of constituents has helped me gain valuable skills ideal for any office, as well as insight into how vast and varied politics really is.

It is amazing to see just how much correspondence Paul and his team deal with and the topics covered, from foreign policy and MoD questions to benefit and immigration queries and simpler constituency needs, such as potholes and bin collections.

Team Maynard have trained me up, pushed me to try new tasks and challenges – and looked after me.

Many interns fear they will become the next tea caddy or paper-shredder, but that’s not been my experience.

It’s given me new found confidence and I’m grateful the opportunity was made available.

I have learned is that politics is for everyone. Changes made by councils, MPs and MEPs affect everybody.

You don’t have to be inside the House of Commons or Lords to make a difference.

Policies begin at grassroots level, one person making their voice heard.

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