Sinead Campbell: My parliamentary experience with OBV


When a young woman is so passionate about both understanding the complex work we live in , but also wanting to play a role in making it a better place, it’s difficult not to want to support and encourage her journey. Sinead Campbell told me;  We talk a lot about politics in my house. My dad’s got very strong opinions, but so do I’.

For one so young I  was completely surprised that she was able to understand complex policy arguments around welfare and welfare reform and she spoke to MP’s such as her hero David Lammy with politeness, but not with servitude. I’m sure her father taught her that. I think whatever this young woman decides to do we’ll be hearing much more about her. My hope is that she will follow her political calling. We could do with many more strong women of colour in the corridors of power.

Simon Woolley


Last Wednesday, I was invited by the Director of Operation Black vote, Simon Woolley, to attend a roundtable hosted by David Lammy MP and the Race APPG to discuss policies on welfare reform in relation to BAME groups. I was very excited to have the opportunity to attend this meeting not only because I feel passionately about the fair treatment for ethnic minorities within the current political and social climate of the UK today, but because I was also interested in gaining insight into life within Parliament.

As a 17 year old A level student, I, like most people, had never entered the Houses of Parliament before this experience and my knowledge of the environment had been based primarily on what is presented in news sources and on TV. Given this, I came into this experience with the idea that the workings of an MP can almost seem far removed from the lives of ordinary citizens. However, David Lammy contradicted these preconceived assumptions. It was encouraging to see a politician who genuinely cares and advocates for equal rights for all communities. His passion and outspokenness regarding the recent Windrush scandal was also apparent in the meeting when addressing the marginalisation of ethnic minority groups affected by policies on welfare reform.

However, this wasn’t approached from a generic or generalised perspective, rather OBV and other human rights organisations in attendance were not only able to identify specific problem areas, such as the under-representation of data regarding Roma groups and the disproportionate effects of the two-child limit policy on certain ethnic groups who have larger families, but also propose ideas and alternative policy recommendations. What I found to be most interesting during the round table was the emphasis on suggesting welfare policies that would help struggling ethnic minority groups rather than strongly sanction or penalize them for the flimsiest of reasons. For example, stopping benefit for turning up late. It was inspiring to be surrounded by a group of people in a parliamentary environment who are truly willing to improve the lives of BAME groups negatively impacted by an unforgiving political system, highlighting the necessity of political action when tackling racial problems in society.

My experience of shadowing Simon Woolley in Parliament was eye-opening and has further encouraged me to campaign for equal human rights. Moving forward, I recognise that even though the racial injustices faced by BAME groups are intricate and deep rooted, this only further enhances the necessity of actively pushing for political change to create a fairer society.

I would like to thank Simon for providing me with such an invaluable opportunity which has reinforced my passion and awareness of the need for social justice for minority groups.

Sinead Campbell