First Footprints experience
By Laura Daubney
In January I joined the rest of Cohort 7 on the first of the three Footprints workshops we will undertake during our time on the scheme. This one was entitled ‘Power, Influence and Democracy’ and on arriving in London on day one, all we knew was that it would involve a trip to Parliament, a visit to a charity and spending time with a second charity, who worked within the local community.
Meeting up with everyone is always fun, we had a catch up and enjoyed dinner together on the first night (having had our mid-secondment meet-up day first), and then it was full steam ahead…nucleargraduate’s don’t do things by halves. It was an early rise on the first morning to visit a charity that has been working to help resolve conflict for many years. The morning was spent encouraging us to discuss our opinions, feelings and emotions about famous quotes, different aspects of power we believed were important and who we thought was powerful. Now, as we are made up mostly of scientists, engineers and commercial specialists, we are not necessarily known to be the most emotionally open people in the world, and so this discussion was certainly a change from the normal conversations anyone is likely to catch us having! We moved on in the afternoon to visit one of three chosen charities, I can’t say too much as it’ll ruin the surprise, but each charity had a huge impact on the group that visited them, and we all returned genuinely influenced by people’s ability to thrive and make something good out of a situation that was so far removed from our own experiences in life. From power of the people to the power of money and business, and to the Shard we went for a debrief. Standing looking out over London was somewhat surreal having just been to visit a charity that provides so much on so little, and the contrast was striking. Realisation that power comes from lots of different places, people and ideas dawned on me somewhat there, and I knew that tomorrow would give me a whole other perspective to consider, the one of the government.
When you decide to do a chemistry degree, and then chose the nuclear industry as a career path, spending a day with MPs in the Houses of Parliament is not the first thing you imagine doing, but that’s exactly where we were. Visiting Parliament, speaking to MPs and asking them questions about the nuclear industry and about their power was a truly incredible experience. These were some of the people many of the UK’s population believe have all the power in this country, and yet their opinions on the matter were somewhat different. It was such a contrast to visiting the charities on the previous day, and yet I came to the decision that actually, it was not necessarily the people in Parliament who are most powerful, power is a choice and a personal and conscientious decision made by individuals about whether they want to have an impact and make a change. It wasn’t the single experience of visiting the charity or Parliament that made me realise this, but seeing and experiencing the differences between the two and speaking to people individually that allowed me to reach my own conclusions about power in the country, in the nuclear industry and on a personal level.
The two days in London were a blur of contrasts and differences and I loved every experience, mainly because they were all unique, much like the nucleargraduate scheme really!