On Monday 19th December, I was invited to shadow the Permanent Secretary for Department for International Development (DFID), Mark Lowcock (who is the most senior Civil Servant in the department), through Whitehall Takeover. It was a really exciting day, especially given my interest in the current state of the Middle East and South East Asia.
The day started with meeting Mark and exploring his role, which is insanely busy! I also met his wonderful team who support his work, as well as other members of staff such as DFID’s Youth Engagement Lead. It was interesting to gain an insight into how the Department operates across the globe and how it manages and interlinks projects, particularly the response to the current Syrian humanitarian crisis, which is an issue I’ve been building a campaign about.
Straight after, I attended a meeting with Mark and the Director Generals of DFID, who each hold an area of the Department’s work, where they discussed targets and provided updates on current projects as well as reflecting on past projects.
However, the best thing about the day was to go to an International Development Committee (IDC) hearing, which is a Departmental Select Committee. A Select Committee is made up of several MPs investigating a certain issue by asking for evidence and making a report with recommendations. In this one, MPs questioned the Permanent Secretary and the Secretary of State for International Development the Right Honourable Priti Patel MP about the activities of the department and how effective they were. It was incredibly interesting to hear about the different aspects, and even got heated quite a few times!
Overall, it was an amazing experience and I learnt a lot! I’d like to say a massive thank you to Michelle Clements from DFID who organised the day, to Max Pumphrey from the Cabinet Office, and above all to the British Youth Council, whose staff do such amazing work day in, day out and are inspirational in their passion to support young people in their pursuit of a better society.