#GetInvolved2016 with Caroline Pidgeon

Arriving at Lib Dem HQ for the Patchwork Foundation’s #GetInvolved2016 campaigning session for Caroline Pidgeon, it was difficult to say who was bravest. Was it the young people who had signed up for a Wednesday of practical campaign training, many of whom would be heading out, leaflet in hand, to face the doorstep for the first time; or was it Caroline and Lauren Pemberton-Nelson, the Lib Dem candidate for the Faraday ward by-election on 21 January? For us Patchworkers one of the biggest boosts at #GetInvolved2016 events is the trust placed in us by the people we are campaigning for, and I hope that the work we do on these insightful days pays back that trust.

As well as #GetInvolved2016 events like the one Lib Dem HQ hosted on 6 January, Patchwork runs a number of events streams. Groups of young people attend every major party conference, and there are standalone events such as the Labour leadership hustings Patchwork held back in 2015. There is also an annual awards ceremony – MP of the Year – which recognises those MPs who have done exceptional work with underrepresented communities.

The Masterclass programme offers an opportunity to go deeper, with intimate Q&A sessions for around 20 Patchworkers with the opportunity to engage with the most experienced people in Parliament and wider public life. I’ve been lucky enough to be on the Masterclass programme this year and cannot overstate how much it has helped me – not just in helping to steer my career but in kindling in me the confidence to translate my convictions for social change into actions.

One of the best things about Patchwork’s #GetInvolved2016 sessions is the mix of people. They are advertised across the Foundation’s networks and so are a great opportunity for those young people who want to get a flavour of Patchwork’s work. We were exceptionally lucky that not only had Caroline announced her half-price fares promise the same morning that we met her and to have a Q&A session with her, Tim Farron and Nick Clegg were also available to meet our group. Tim and Caroline rode the bus with us out to the Aylesbury Estate where we met up with Lauren and her local team, and our volunteers were able to get out on the campaign trail with them both.

Q&A sessions are a staple of the Patchwork diet, and this day was no exception. Nick Clegg spared an hour to come and join our group, to share some of his reflections on the current political climate and to take our questions. It was invaluable for us to link our practical experience on the Aylesbury Estate with a wider chat about politics and the party, and to have the opportunity to hear Nick’s unique point of view.

I joined the Liberal Democrats a couple of months ago after six years cheering from the sidelines. After listening to Caroline, Tim and Nick and experiencing local Lib Dems in action out on the campaign trail I know I made the right choice. I also know that continued collaboration with organisations such as Patchwork means the Lib Dems can continue their excellent work with diverse communities to make sure every voice is heard.

* Claire Eadington is a northerner currently living in Hertfordshire and working in the public sector in London, currently on the Patchwork Foundation Masterclass programme. Claire become a member on 25th November 2015.

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  • You are very welcome to the Party Claire.

  • Eddie Sammon 12th Jan '16 - 4:14pm

    Good to see the enthusiasm. I don’t know much about Caroline Pidgeon. She has written to us here a few times, but unfortunately she’s never really gripped my interest, besides with a proposal on gun regulatory fees which I disagreed with.

    I’ll have to check out her policies more.

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