Last week, Team Ward had the privilege of welcoming Matthew, a young constituent from Cumbria in his final year at high school, to come and shadow. Below is his account of the experience. Julie regularly accepts young people to come and shadow her in the European Parliament, so if you're interest don't hesitate to email us!
I was fortunate enough to shadow Julie Ward MEP and her office for an afternoon. Despite my only being available to shadow her for one afternoon, I was able to grasp a sense of just how much work Julie and her Brussels team (Eleanor, Julia and Omri) undertake when Parliament is in session, and how hectic their schedule is - sometimes Julie is triple-booked!
Prior to meeting Julie, I had heard the common misconception that MEPs do very little work, and I understood the job to be (wrongly) associated with the phrase ‘gravy train’; I wanted to see for myself whether this was true.
During my time with the office, I attended the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee meeting, as well as hearing Julie give a speech about the increasing importance of breakfast clubs for children in the UK, as well as the problems of hunger faced by refugees living in French camps. Her speech struck me as both passionate and very emotional.
Whilst many members are frightened to speak out against blatantly-racist and offensive comments, Julie is not afraid to speak up for those being targeted - even if it means becoming a target herself. Julie struck me as a very hard-working Member of Parliament who speaks confidently about matters in which she truly believes - whether they be local issues, regarding flooding, or national and international issues, surrounding social inequalities.
I believe there to be a dangerous misunderstanding about the EU among the local population. Therefore, I would not think twice about encouraging anybody to visit the Parliament, or to talk to Julie about the work of the Parliament and its effect on our daily lives. My experience with Julie's office has completely changed my perception and understanding of the European Union. It has encouraged me to continue to learn another language and to join the Britain Stronger in Europe campaign. In addition, I have been inspired to consider a career within the European Union.
If the opportunity was to arise for me to shadow Julie for a whole week, I would not hesitate in doing so; both Julie and her team made me feel very welcome and taught me a great deal.