Baroness Borwick, politician and former Deputy Mayor of London celebrates International Women’s Day with Stanmore College students
Wednesday, 8th March was a special occasion for Stanmore College students and staff, not just in celebration of International Women’s Day, but also thanks to a poignant and inspirational speech from Baroness Victoria Borwick.
The Baroness began my putting in the region of 100 students as ease with her opening comments revealing how she, as a young person, had found school somewhat restrictive; she had held a strong desire to quickly gain employment, start earning, and be independent. The Baroness explained that, having subsequently worked for a period of time, she realised she had been fortunate to have had an education and that there were many people who don’t know how to get work or progress in life. This realisation ignited a desire in her to become a local councillor and help those around her.
Baroness Borwick used a novel way to increase the teenage listeners’ understanding of what councillors do by asking students “what do you see when you look out the window?” Responses included buildings, lights, streets, refuse collection; she explained that all these things, especially when something is not working, are the reasons people in the community contact their local councillors i.e., others who can speak on their behalf to make things better.
Students were informed of the work of the Mayor of London and the Greater London Authority (GLA) and how the Baroness had become a Member of Parliament. There had, of course, been challenges along the way, everyone encounters different challenges, but the most important thing it to get up and keep trying. The starting point is simply getting up in the morning, if we make a commitment to be somewhere or do something, then that is what we need to do, as our work ethic is what will help us get on in life. Attendees heard that achievements and a successful life is possible and that, unlike in some countries, everyone in the UK has an opportunity to be educated, males and females.
The Baroness shared the importance of the work she undertakes with a food bank, the Felix Project; a charity fighting hunger, and how she now spends her time supporting people who need help and encouraging others at events such as this one.
A quiz related to the achievements of women followed; it included facts such as New Zealand having been the first country to allow women to vote, the first female Black MP was Diane Abbott and more.
Students were encouraged to be ambitious, to go out and make a difference by applying themselves to achieve their goals. Several students shared the profession of their choice; these included architecture, pharmacy, engineering, health and social care, bio-chemistry, and psychotherapy.
Questions posed to the Baroness included “what are the challenges MPs face?” Her reply centred on the long hours in Parliament and having witnessed female MPs ring home and tell their children bedtime stories over the phone. She did add that this may well be the same for those working in the city or other professions, so she didn’t feel it was more of a challenge than in many other jobs.
The Baroness referred to having the courage of your convictions to fight challenges that arise; nothing gained is easy, you must work for it but be ambitious and go for it, you can make a difference.
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