One year on: Hannah Lawson (2017)
Almost a year after graduation from St John’s, we catch up with Hannah, who graduated from St John’s in 2020 with a BA in Human, Social and Political Sciences. She is currently undertaking an internship with Stephen Timms MP as part of a leadership programme for Christian graduates.
Tell us about the leadership programme. How does it make connections between faith and public service?
The programme has offered an invaluable weekly opportunity to dig into political theology and meet Christian leaders and thinkers in the public sector. I have really enjoyed connecting my Cambridge degree with my faith and exploring the depth of rigorous Christian thinking on issues of government and human flourishing. Meeting leaders has been an inspiring window into the lives of people who are wholly committed to public service, not pursuing ambition so much as the good of others. As Christian graduates on the programme, we hold a variety of political views and work for parliamentarians across the House – but, united in Christ, we are able to have kind and challenging conversations about all sorts of cultural and political issues. A rare thing!
Your work for Stephen Timms, the Labour MP for East Ham, involves constituency casework and diary management. Tell us about the variety of work that you have undertaken and how the pandemic has affected the lives of Stephen’s constituents.
This year has been a fascinating insight into the work of an MP and the broader public sector. In managing Stephen’s diary, I get a peek at the vast array of organisations, causes and ideas vying for an MP’s attention. With an average of eight meetings a day, there’s a lot to keep on top of. Meanwhile, constituency casework keeps our whole office perpetually under pressure. In his 27 years as an MP, Stephen and his team have handled almost 90,000 cases on behalf of East Ham’s 150,000 residents!
Each week I hold video advice surgeries with constituents, and by email I deal with casework issues from housing to immigration to anti-social behaviour. Despite huge local resilience, the pandemic has caused severe hardship in East Ham, which is a sobering reality to witness after my relatively easy student years in Cambridge.
How have your experiences over the last year shaped your ideas and plans for the future?
I continue to be excited by the prospect of a career in the public sector. Looking ahead, I am hoping to move into working for local, rather than central, government. The pandemic has highlighted the vitality of our communities and the importance of localised responses. The potential role of local authorities as conveners of place, empowering and serving their communities, excites me hugely!
Congratulations on getting engaged in 2020! How is the planning proceeding for your wedding in August?
Thank you! It’s been a year full of change, challenge and anticipation. Preparing for our marriage and our wedding has been really enjoyable – though it continues to feel as though we’re planning three different events, depending on the potential restrictions (or, hopefully, lack thereof!).