For those of you who wonder what Poliblogger actually does for the Refugee Council, I thought I’d use today’s emtry to share ‘a day in the life’. It’s not exactly an average day – in fact, it’s rather important because it’s the session of the Grand Committee considering the UK Borders Bill in the House of Lords, As you’ve probably picked up by now, we’ve done a lot of lobbying on this Bill, particularly around the Still Human Still Here campaign to end destitution of refused asylum seekers. Yesterday was the day when they were debating the amendment we had prepared along with our campaign partners.
My day started, a little bizarrely, in the Bishops’ Robing Room in the House of Lords. The most senior bishops of the Church of England have seats in the Lords, and since the Church of England is a member of Still Human Still Here, they tabled the amendment. The duty bishop that day (they take it in turns to attend debates) was the Lord Bishop of Newcastle (below), who I found closeted in the Robing Room (though he wasn’t wearing robes at that point – just the usual bishop’s purple shirt). It is quite a nice little room, with solid wooden furniture and flamboyant interior (presumably designed by Pugin) and plush armchairs upholstered in red to signify our proximity to the House of Lords chamber.
After twenty minutes of briefing the Bishop on the ins and outs of what our amendment does, and anticipating the government’s response, we popped into the Lords’ Tea Room for a more informal chat about the issue before the Bishop had to return to say Prayers in the chamber.
I whizzed back to our HQ in Brixton for a scheduled phonecall with an organisation that is interested in funding our work. Lots of technical stuff about how to put the bid together and give it the greatest chance of success.
At midday, I was about to settle down to my emails when I noticed a voicemail. It was the Earl of Sandwich – the descendant of the original inventor of the sandwich, a hereditary peer, and one of our most consistent advocates in the House of Lords. The UK Borders Bill Committee started at 14:00 – so I sped back to Parliament as fast as the tube would carry me for a working lunch with the Earl.
I promised you a day in the life – but I think that’s enough excitement for one day so you’re only getting half a day this time.
In the next post, a new face for the Poliblog will fill you in on whether my frenetic lobbying actually paid off…