At the age of 31, Luana had just been made redundant from her Marketing role and was at a crossroads in her career. After a period of reflection, she decided that this was the perfect opportunity to take a risk on something she was passionate about, politics.
As a mixed-race woman growing up in London, she had struggled to relate to the role models available to her in politics. Whilst there were women of ethnic origin in parliament, they were few and far between, and those that she did see, didn’t always resonate in terms of the issues they were raising. And it wasn’t just about ethnicity, class and background still had a major part to play in leaving her feeling disconnected. Many of the people of BAME origin in positions of responsibility had had access to networks and privileges that she could not relate to.
Although Luana had a degree in Criminology and Sociology, she didn’t have any experience or connections in the world of politics. Due to this lack of connection and relevant role models, she had always felt that politics was just something that happened around her, without her involvement.
When she found out about the Speaker’s Parliamentary Placement Scheme, she decided that it was the perfect opportunity for someone like her to experience what it’s really like to work at the heart of decision making in the UK. She participated in the scheme during the post EU referendum government in 2018-19. In her own experience when she was growing up, governments with large majorities had free reign to make decisions and implement change relatively unchallenged. So, it was both fascinating and challenging to be working with a member of the cabinet during a time in politics where almost every decision and vote was on a knife-edge.
Luana learnt so much in her 9 months on the programme. Many of her preconceptions were challenged and she soon realised that politics is complex and nuanced. Learning more about how policy decisions are made and understanding the art of compromise helped her to thrive in her role as a parliamentary assistant. Her contract was extended at the end of the scheme and she stayed with her MP right up until the general election in 2019.
The scheme has really helped Luana to understand more about how things work in parliament and it has allowed her to make networks and connections which will be invaluable for her in securing a role in the future. She is now actively seeking other roles both in the House of Commons and in other government departments and is really looking forward to the next step in her new career.
If this story has inspired you, you can find out more and apply here: https://www.step.org.uk/clients/spps/