Thursday, 24 February 2011

A Green member from Bristol asks...

"I would like to know which Committee(s), if any, you would be interested in putting yourself forward for if you were selected as a Green Party peer."

Thank you for your question. Unfortunately, there seems to have been a printing error with regard to the omission of my contact details. Another candidate, Stuart Jeffrey, very kindly passed on your question.

It has taken some time to realise that I do indeed have levels of expertise and have considered carefully where I might best ‘fit’ with regard to committees. Given my background I feel that I would sit more intuitively into the following:
1) Armed Forces – having grown up as an army dependent I believe that I am well placed to balance the needs of soldiers, their dependents and the upper echelons within the Forces with that of non-combatants and the ordinary citizen. A ‘bridge’ if you will.

2)Culture, media and sport – I have been involved on a citizens level with ‘Mediawatch’, Ofcom and was on our local Twinning, Museums and Arts committees. I have been shocked at the lack of scrutiny in these areas and the mixed messages sent to the public with regards to the sexualisation of young people in particular. I have watched with interest the politicisation of sport and would be very interested in learning further about how the seemingly incongruent sides can be managed.

3)Education – I am retraining to be a teacher of RE and have been working in a very challenging school for five years. I am not religious, but see RE as encompassing many aspects of our lives – geography, medicine, arts, architecture etc. The current rush towards free schools and academies to me is the sticking plaster attempt to cover entrenched and endemic failings by successive governments. There appears to be, like many areas of political and social life, an ever growing ‘onion effect’ – the building of layers of remedies and ‘new’ drives. This has led to a huge ‘onion’ in which the layers are disconnected and no longer able to flow or catch up with each other and nobody can fathom where the current failings started. A macro approach is needed here, one which allows the teachers, pupils, support staff and parents to be really engaged with and above all listened to without fear of reproach. I recently formulated a research proposal on ‘Truanting/ Persistent Absence’ and after a literature review was perturbed to find none within the UK that had actually had pupils’ views at its heart, i.e. no interviews with pupils.

4)Health – as a trainee Clinical Psychologist, (unfortunately not completed due to no part time opportunity available to be on becoming a single parent – this would be illegal now), and as an Assistant Psychologist for two years, I have worked in many areas. Adult mental health; child psychiatry, secure ‘criminal’ units, older adults – stroke and Alzheimer’s, childhood cancers, autism, learning disabilities. I have worked at all levels, including some middle management.

I have worked for: Exeter & District; Cornwall & Isles of Scilly; Addenbrooke’s Hospital NHS Trusts. I have also worked as a nursing assistant in hospitals and care homes. I am a media volunteer for ‘Rethink’ and my daughter and I have completed joint work with ‘Red Nose’ and ‘Blue Peter’ and I have had media training under John Morrell. I have published research in the area of ‘The impact of disclosure of mental health status’

I was initially very impressed with Andrew Lansley’s take on mental health and he was coming from a place of personal experience. I too am open about my mental health status, Bi-Polar disorder – this has been well managed for nearly a decade now. However, Andrew Lansley’s manoeuvrings towards Consortia is to me a step towards privatisation and if my own, well managed GP practice are worried, that’s good enough for me to be worried.

As you can see, I have experience from all sides of health, especially mental health and believe that my expertise would be best placed in this Committee.

4) Science and Technology – this is an on going, non-academic, area of interest. I am particularly interested in the psychological impact of new and innovative technologies. Having minored in philosophy, I am also aware of the ethical considerations involved. However, I am not ‘anti-‘ technology or scientific endeavour and am fascinated by its pace and pursuit of excellence.

5) Ecclesiastical – I was surprised, moons ago, to find Bishops in our House of Lords - I like to watch proceedings from both Houses via the TV live feeds and recordings. My daughter has called me a fellow ‘geek’ for this!  - I’m not sure how I feel about that still. Yet, a the pragmatic part of me believes that we have to engage and encompass all comers. Again, I have an in depth knowledge of biblical and religious texts and how these impact on modern life. I would see myself, again, as the ‘bridge’.

I am essentially willing to try any Committee deemed appropriate or more pressing by our Party. I have a legal and debating background, having cut my teeth at the London School of Economics and as a member of the student union there for one year. I am adept taking a ‘brief’, doing my homework into the small hours and presenting it. Dealing with all levels and types of people is something I enjoy and excel at. I am an ‘all rounder’, quick to learn, grounded in the world the minimum wage and post office queues. I believe in respect and kindness at all times.

I noted, after having called the House of Lords enquiry line, that there is training and support available; I fully intend to take up those opportunities.

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