A scholar speaks

Dr Emma Hogan from the Sussex Partnership Trust is one of two college Parliamentary scholars.

It was that time of year again…the dreaded ARCP.

I was therefore having to access my portfolio on the Royal College website more than usual, when on one particular day I found myself ‘portfolio procrastinating’ and browsing the website. I noticed a small advert on the bottom right hand corner for the role of Parliamentary scholar. I knew I had to get involved.

After the usual application and interview process, we met at the college with the peers who had agreed to be involved.

Busy start

I hit the ground running. Literally. I was paired with Lord Brooke of Alverthorpe; a Labour peer who has a particular interest in childhood obesity and addictions. He has an extremely packed diary and it is certainly a challenge to keep up with him. 

Every day is different but we begin by meeting for a debrief on the week’s events both in Parliament and our own projects. We look at the events of the day and consider any plans we are making for future projects.

Typically, we attend the oral questions in the chamber of the House of Lords followed by meetings; perhaps an All Party Parliamentary Group such as the APPG on Alcohol Harm hosted by the Drugs, Alcohol and Justice cross party parliamentary group.

They recently launched their Alcohol Charter; a document in which all the facts about alcohol use in the UK are laid bare.

Astonishingly, I learned that liver diseases have increased by 400% since 1970 and are now the only major cause of death in the UK which is rising.

Shocked? I know I was.  It has been inspiring to meet with the various stakeholders to witness the hard work which has been going on behind the scenes and it has been a privilege to speak with them first-hand.

Passionate

Lord Brooke also has a particular interest in general wellbeing. He is passionate about encouraging people to look after themselves. He is co-chair of the Yoga APPG and to be honest, I have always been a little sceptical about the benefits that this could bring.

I am now a convert. Meeting with professionals from charities who take yoga to prison settings and see clear beneficial results has changed my view.

I know that I am still in the early days of this process; there is still hard work to come in the form of writing speeches and posting questions but I am excited about the journey and where this will lead. I became a doctor for that age-old reason of wanting to help people.

This scheme has unlocked a whole new perspective for me to understand the ways in which politics and policies are made which have an impact on all of us.

I would like to express my gratitude to the Royal College of Psychiatrists and to Baroness Hollins for allowing me this fantastic opportunity. I would also like to thank Lord Brooke for giving up so much of his time to take part in this scheme.  

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