This week I have been doing some work experience with Neil McEvoy and his staff. I decided to do this work experience as I am currently studying Politics in University and wish to pursue a political career in the future. Before starting I was unsure on what political jobs entailed as I hadn’t had much personal experience in politics to date.
On the Monday, I was able to sit in on the weekly meeting with Neil and his staff which showed me what the week would entail and everything Neil needed to do within the week. This gave me a good insight of what Neil’s job involved on a weekly basis with campaigns and meetings etc.
During the day I was able to get involved with the press releases that were being done for that week. Before working on these I didn’t realise how Press Releases worked and what had to be done in terms of research in order to write them. I was able to finish two press releases in the day on different issues, one being on the dredging of mud by the nearby Hinkley Point Nuclear Reactor. The main learning point of the day was being able to see how everyone’s job in the office worked and what their roles were.
On the Tuesday, I was able to visit the Welsh Assembly. As I had never visited the Assembly before it was interesting to see exactly how it worked. During the morning, I got to sit in on a press conference that involved Neil speaking about matters that he wanted the media to report on. This gave me a chance to see how an AM’s relationship worked with the media and how press stories were released. After the press conference I was able to work on Neil’s question for the Leader of the House, Jane Hutt. I was then able to sit in the Public Gallery to watch the AM’s questions for the First Minister and then the questions for Jane Hutt.
On the Wednesday, I attended the Assembly again. In the same way as on Tuesday, I was able to work on Neil’s question for the Finance Secretary. I found it helpful to see how on the Wednesday different questions were asked based on the Cabinet Secretary that was taking the questions. During the day I also got to learn about how Neil’s Facebook ads worked. As Neil was launching a petition for this week I could see how this was done. I found this interesting as I could see how campaigns and petitions etc. were run through social media.
In the afternoon of Wednesday I got to do some research on a piece of legislation that is in the process of being changed through independent recommendation. This was very useful to me as I was able to see how research projects may work when gathering information for AMs. As the research I was doing may affect Neil and other AMs I could gather information on what the knock on effects of a change in legislation might be.
On Thursday, I was able to work with Neil and Bethan on the casework that they were doing. I found this particularly intriguing as before my week here I didn’t realise the amount of help that Neil and his staff offer to the community. I learnt about several different cases that the office was working on which ranged from housing problems to crime.
Bethan, Neil’s administrator, showed me during the day how cases were put on the casework system. Through looking at this I was able to see how everyone in the office is able to access the cases, if for instance one of the staff isn’t in the office when a case needs to be dealt with. I had the chance in the day to write a letter to a constituent to give them an update on their case status. It was helpful throughout the day to see how much the staff helped constituents when they had hit a brick wall in terms of problems that they were having.
On Friday, I had the chance to help Neil and the staff campaign for a case they’re working on involving a Primary School. I enjoyed this aspect as I was able to get involved directly with a case. Throughout the day, I also got to continue with looking at casework as constituents came to the office to discuss their case.
Overall, this week has been very worthwhile as I have been able to get some tangible experience in politics and what political jobs entail.
Siobhan Walters studies politics and history at Lancaster University and is originally from Bridgend.