Introducing Lynne Woolley, Policy and Parliamentary Volunteer
Today we’re happy to introduce Lynne Woolley, our new Policy and Parliamentary Volunteer. Over the next several weeks Lynne will write blogs about her time with us, so we thought we’d start with finding out a little bit more about her. . . .
Q: Why did you apply for the post of Policy and Parliamentary Volunteer?
I saw the post and thought it would be a great opportunity to get some policy experience and find out how charities working with children and young people influence government.
I have been involved in the charity sector as a volunteer youth leader since I was 15 years old. I loved the fact that The Children’s Society’s aim is to create space for children and young people – in particular the most vulnerable and disadvantaged – to be respected, valued and heard.
As a Policy and Parliamentary Volunteer, what do you do?
I'm supporting a number of projects ranging from improving employment outcomes for young carers to campaigning for free school meals. I’ll also be supporting a parliamentary inquiry into the way the asylum support system meets the needs of children and young people.
I am really interested in the links between local government, where I worked for six years, and the charity sector. I am keen to find out how the charity and local government sectors could work more closely together.
What has been your favourite project so far?
The Children’s Society, Citizens Advice and Disability Rights UK supported an inquiry – led by Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson – into the impact of the new Universal Credit benefit system on disabled people and their families. The concerns of almost 3500 disabled people and organisations were raised in the final report, 'Holes in the Safety Net'.
The days leading up to the launch were really busy. It was interesting to find out how the media team dealt with the huge volume of enquiries from major newspapers, organisations and TV programmes. Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson made a passionate speech at the launch and afterwards I spoke to people affected by the changes. The event brought home the importance of organisations campaigning on behalf of the families affected.
Beyond volunteering as part of our policy team what else do you do?
I’m very sporty. I love going for a run or a cycle in the mornings. I’m also a qualified rowing coach and spend my weekends buzzing around in a launch on the Thames (yes, it is just like the scene from the opening ceremony of the Olympics - minus David Beckham, unfortunately). Since the Olympics, we’ve seen a huge increase in people wanting to get involved in the sport, which is great.
Are there any other causes you support or are passionate about?
I am a volunteer with GirlGuiding UK. One of our big campaigns at the moment is around positive role models. I think it is really important for children and young people to have positive role models, mentors and advocates to help inspire and support them.
I studied geography at university, focussing on development, community engagement and environmental management. I recently returned from a six-month trip around Southeast Asia, which was amazing. Inspired by the fantastic community organisations I met along the way I recently started a course on sustainable development. I am writing a cookbook with some of the course participants on how to eat in a more sustainable way.