Tuesday, 29 January 2008

Casework madness

As we near the end of a rather challenging January, us interns are starting to look forward to the sunnier, more cheerful climes of springtime. The half term parliamentary recess is just over a week away now, so we're certainly looking forward to a bit of a break from the challenges of the internship - I am particularly chuffed at the moment on a couple of counts. One is my ability to get a bit of a bargain train ticket home to Weymouth for the end of next week - making me a saving of over £11 - which will certainly come in handy for the months ahead!

The second is an email I received from a constituent yesterday thanking me personally for all the help I had given her in resolving a very longstanding dispute with the Tax Credit Office. I shalnt bore you all with the details of the casework, but suffice it to say that MPs are often approached by people who have run into severe difficulties and delays with various government agencies, whose vastly complicated and enlarged bureaucratic systems mean that many cases - eg chasing up maintenance payments through the CSA or obtaining benefits from HMRC - are simply shunted from one office to another without resolution, or are simply lost somewhere in the system. Needless to say these delays are usually very frustrating for those affected, and can lead in many cases to acute distress, especially for those living on or close to the poverty line - £40 or so a week really can be the difference between affording school uniform, decent food, and furnishings for one's home.

This "casework" MPs or their staff undertake can also be very frustrating as it usually takes a while to get the case prioritised - it requires a lot of patience, attention to detail, and a determination to keep the pressure on to see the case resolved. But eventually, after many phonecalls, emails and plenty of delays, these cases can be cracked, and receiving the thanks from those you have helped really does give an immense feeling of satisfaction and achievement.

Team Intern is off to Brixton Prison on Friday, the oldest gaol in the country, and currently serving as a remand prison for the area. Let's hope none of us are detained at Her Majesty's Pleasure... more details to follow.


Tuesday, 22 January 2008

Return of the bar

Another mid-week post from me - live inside the corridors of power (well, at the time of writing anyway!) A fair bit of news from the interns coming up...

I appear to be on the road to recovery, after a protracted length of abstinence from alcohol, which shows that the powers of detox are obviously something to be reccommended. Although not for too long.

Dom has some very exciting news - he played in his debut match this morning for the Parliamentary 1st 11 football team, joining IDS and the lads in a 5-1 thrashing of the opposition! Sounds very much like a session at PMQ's these days. His boss, John Pugh, was so impressed with his intern's achievement, that he offered to videotape the match - so watch this space for CPI Match of the Day!

A few of us are hoping to visit John's home in the rural bliss of Buckinghamshire this weekend, which will be a welcome break from the city. I am also very much looking forward to meeting the goats...

And finally, all the interns are very pleased indeed to see the return of the Cardinal's Arms to fully operational status - Dom and Clare are particularly enjoying contributing to the team, and Im sure the bar will act as a real social magnet within the house.


Wednesday, 16 January 2008

January blues

A post from a distinctly grotty-feeling and rough-sounding Will here. Have been labouring for two weeks under what feels like the worst bout of man-flu I have ever experienced... nasty cold and headache, but alas not nasty enough to keep me from work! I must confess to only having come across this concept of ailment in the last year or so, and was initially sceptical, but I can honestly say it's as bad as it sounds - must have something to do with my age.

Anyhow, we've all settled back into the swing of things now, returning to work and play with renewed vigour after our break. Seems like I havent been away though - have been ploughing through a fair bit of casework recently, learning in depth all the various problems of the Child Support Agency! It is time consuming, but actually very inspiring to take on cases of people who are at their wit's end, and have turned to their MP as their last hope of resolving some particularly pressing and unpleasant issues. It doesnt happen often, but it is also a fantastic feeling to receive a letter from a constituent thanking us for our time and dedication to resolving their problems. Go interns!

The parliamentary term is a rather odd one this term - we have a half term recess in about a month's time, which makes for a lovely antidote to any new year blues one may be feeling (mainly due to the austere regime of cold showers we've been experiencing recently), and some of the interns are planning a little jaunt abroad for a few days to make the most of the break. And we're all looking forward to future trips to Brussels and Rome in the coming months! Quite the jet-setters aren't we!?!

Monday, 7 January 2008

2008 begins!

First post of the new year - all four of us have returned to Newman House fully refreshed after a Christmas break and a fair bit of rest, relaxation and perhaps a little too much over-indulgence... well, on my part at least!

Here we go for another parliamentary session - the house returned today and we're back into the thick of it. Dom's MP John Pugh was moved the to the treasury team by new Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg today, from the health team, which means Dom has a fair bit of reading to do to familiarise himself with the new brief!

Looking forward to a trip to the Westminster Children's Society on Friday - our fully rounded experience continues!

Great to be back in Newman House - lots of friendly faces to catch up with, and we're all looking forward to a big, beginning of term night out on Friday hopefully!

More from me soon...