Teenage members of Girlguiding from Lancashire East had a once-in-a-lifetime chance to join a takeover of the House of Lords earlier this week.
Harriet Dalton from Ribble Valley and Ellen Rintoul from Blackburn, spent October 31 in Westminster, where they were each one of sixty Girlguiding members from across the UK paired with a Baroness to learn about life in the Lords. Harriet had a personal tour of the palace from Baroness Crawley, through the corridors of power, before having a mentoring session and the opportunity to question her on her life in politics.
The girls were invited as part of celebrations to mark the 60th anniversary of the first female peer, Baroness Swanborough, taking her seat in 1958.
Harriet, 17, said:
“Being selected to visit the House of Lords and shadow a peer for the day was an amazing, once in a lifetime experience, that I will never forget. It felt totally surreal, being surrounded by all that history, formality and ceremony, and lots of famous faces normally only ever seen on the news or political TV shows. I gained real insight into the workings of the upper house of parliament and its traditions, and a good understanding of the daily work of the peers. We were a little in awe, but all the peers were very welcoming and very keen to understand our views and opinions on the subjects that matter to us most. So much so, that 4 of us from North West England were invited by Baroness Jenkin, to participate in a Select Committee meeting about intergenerational fairness. I really felt that my views were being listened to and respected, and that potentially we had, in our small way, contributed to future policies. It truly was an amazing day, and I am very grateful to Girlguiding for giving me the opportunity to experience it.”
The day marked just one of many events Girlguiding has taken part in to mark the centenary of some women getting the vote.
Earlier this year, hundreds of girls took to the streets of London, Belfast, Cardiff and Edinburgh as part of PROCESSIONS, carrying banners celebrating the centenary. And members up and down the UK have been able to gain a commemorative Vote 100 badge throughout the year.
They can also earn their Women’s’ Rights and Campaigning badges as part of Girlguiding’s new programme of badges and activities, which was revealed over the summer.
Emma Guthrie, Assistant Chief Guide, said: “At Girlguiding, we believe that every girl should be able to speak out about the things that matter to her – and to know that her voice can make a difference. This was an opportunity for girls to see how women before them have made change at the highest levels, and we thank every member of the House of Lords who allowed a girl to shadow her. We hope the girls were inspired by the day. Who knows – by the time the House of Lords celebrates its centenary of the first female peer, one of the girls attending may well be among them!”