A day in the life of a charity political consultant

Noah Froud takes us through a day working as a consultant at Principle

Today I’ll be working in nurtureuk’s office. So far I’ve been at Principle Consulting for just over two months working with The Hepatitis C Trust and education charity nurtureuk.

9:00 – 9:15 am First thing, I do a review of today’s policy news and do some horizon scanning for events coming up in the next few days. It’s vital to keep abreast of what’s happening in all the different policy areas we work across so reading this through every morning is always a must. Whilst we generally know most of what’s coming up a week or so in advance, Urgent Questions and changes of business can always be announced at the last minute so it’s always worth keeping a constant watch.

9:15 – 10:00 am Next week, a Welsh Assembly Member will be visiting a school in their constituency to present an award for the nurture group the school runs. I put the finishing touches to the press release I’ve been drafting for the event and send these off to the school. I check-in with nurtureuk’s operations manager to learn more about how many schools are carrying out nurture interventions in the local area and include these in a briefing member so they’re up to speed. These visits are important as they help politicians – whether MPs, MSPs or AMs – understand the work nurtureuk does in their local area.

10:00 – 10:30 am I’ve got a quick meeting with nurtureuk’s Head of Research to go through the key findings of a report she’s working on for release next month. My last job involved a lot of media and press work so I’m looking to see what stands out as potentially interesting for journalists.

10:30 am – 12:30 pm After a spree of media attention and political pressure around knife crime earlier this year the government has launched a consultation on treating serious violence like a public health concern with an appropriate strategy to target to causes. Given a lot of attention has focused on the correlation between exclusions and the links to violence nurtureuk will be giving its response as an organisation which aims to reduce exclusions. I start drafting our response and also have a look at what other groups are saying publicly. Often the questions a consultation is asking will indicate what direction the government or agency is planning to go in and understanding that helps give the most relevant response.

12:30 – 1:00 pm Whilst I’m not working in the offices of my other client, The Hepatitis C Trust, we’re still responsible for running their social media accounts. I give the accounts a quick check for notifications and post some tweets relating to the Infected Blood Inquiry which begins the following week. At least 2,400 people have died as a result of infected blood used for transfusions from the 1970s to 1991 in what’s been labelled the biggest scandal in NHS history. As a Core Participant in the Inquiry the Trust has an important role in supporting the inquiry’s work and making sure victims’ stories are told.

1:30 – 14:30 pm After a quick break for lunch I have a call scheduled with a headteacher at a school who’s been using nurture interventions to support their pupils for a few years now. The school could be a useful case study for media and policy work, helping explain the impact that nurture interventions can have to politicians and the wider public. The head is clearly passionate about nurture and we get into a really good conversation about her experience and the school’s massive improvement since it started nurture interventions. This is definitely one of the best things about working for charities: not only are we working for causes with a positive social impact but we work really closely with the people who see the benefit day in day out. Proud Lancastrian that I am, it’s also nice to here another Northern accent. After the call I edit the case study we’re planning to use and send it back so the head can confirm she’s happy with it.

2:30 – 3pm  I’ve been working to audit the most relevant research that supports nurtureuk’s policy recommendations. This is also being used by Becky, one of Principle’s Directors who also works at nurtureuk, to put together a briefing for an upcoming meeting with one of the education ministers. It’ll also help nutureuk identify where they should prioritise research in the future. Research on education outcomes is hard to conduct – there are lots of ethical and practical issues around using control groups or controlling for different variables that might impact children’s behaviour or results. Prioritising the research that is of most use to the charity is therefore really important.

3 – 6 pm I leave the office for a meeting of the APPG (All-Party Parliamentary Group) run by the British Psychological Society. The meeting is on children’s mental health in schools and is taking place in Parliament. I grab a copy of the Evening Standard on the Tube – a good chance to catch up on the morning’s political events.

Stepping out of Westminster tube station I’m met with the police cordon that’s been set up because of the Extinction Rebellion protests happening outside Parliament at the moment.

Given it’s the end of the day I’m able to get through security pretty quickly and make my way to the event room. We’ll be putting on our own event for nurtureuk in a few weeks’ time so it’s a good chance to identify any additional potential invitees, as well as hearing the latest thinking from colleagues in the mental health and education world. Whilst there’s some positive mention of the measures the government is taking under the Children and Mental Health Services green paper, like any discussion in education policy at the moment, talks of stretched budgets and funding dominates.