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2 July 2019

Young woman experiences the world of politics through our 'Me and My Shadow' scheme

Budding politician Sydney Joyce, recently shadowed Paula Sherriff MP as part of our 'Me and My Shadow' scheme. Paula is the MP for Dewsbury in Yorkshire and the Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Epilepsy.

Me and My Shadow

Our 'Me and My Shadow' scheme aims to build confidence and ambition in women with epilepsy and encourages them to think big.

The scheme provide opportunities for women with epilepsy to shadow women in a range of different careers for a day.

Sydney's epilepsy

Sydney was diagnosed with temporal lobe epilepsy a year and a half ago. Her seizures make her heart stop, so she's had a pacemaker fitted as a result. Her seizures are still not fully under control, but they are less frequent than they used to be.

Shadowing an MP

Sydney says: "I had an incredible day shadowing Paula Sherriff MP whilst she went about her duties."

Sydney Joyce and Paula Sherriff MP

Sydney saw Paula in action as Shadow Minister for Mental Health during Health and Social Care Oral questions; she sat in on a meeting with the Chief Executive of a mental health charity; and she attended an event as part of Children's Hospice Week.

Sydney even got to see Theresa May and her team as they passed her in one of the corridors in the House of Commons.

"Paula and her team were incredibly welcoming. She has a personal link to epilepsy and was obviously genuinely interested in what it's like living with the condition. She asked lots of questions about my personal experience of managing my condition" she continued.

Sydney said: "I came away from the day having had lots of fun and built up an incredible step count from walking all over the House of Commons!".

She felt positive and optimistic that people from all different backgrounds, including those with disabilities and conditions, could work in politics.

Reach for the sky

Clare Pelham, Chief Executive at Epilepsy Society, said: "So many times we hear from people with epilepsy how their condition limits their opportunities and, often, their ambitions. But we want women with epilepsy to think big and think bold. We want them to be inspired to reach for the sky and not let their seizures hold them back. We want women to explore the career paths that appeal to them, to get the experience that will help them decide ‘Is this for me? How can I achieve the goals than I want to realise in my life?’

“Achievement can be on so many different levels and can be both big and small. But it all starts with exploring the possibilities, getting a foot in the door, meeting the people who have already journeyed along a path you may be considering. And that is where we are so grateful to our hosts who are welcoming our ‘shadows’ to join them for the day to see what life is really like at the coal front.

“It is amazing to see how the shared experiences benefit both sides; we have got some really positive feedback from all who have taken part. I would like to thank our hosts and our shadows and hope that we will be able to build on this year’s experience by expanding the scheme even further next year".

We wish the best of luck to all of the shadows who have yet to yet to complete their placements.

You can read about the experiences of other 'shadows' here.