The party conferences are now over and I’m back in London, oddly excited by the prospect of spending a whole 5 days in the office.
So was it all worth it? My considered view is yes. I think we, as a small-ish charity, punched above our weight and made a range of new connections that we can now follow up in the coming months. Having tallied the number, we met or accosted 23 MPs, 6 MSPs, the Children’s Commissioner for England, the Chair of the Equality and Human Rights Commission and the Acting General Secretary of the National Union of Teachers, and many other key figures. Of the 23 MPs, we met several senior figures, including the (then) Minister for Disability, Anne McGuire, and shadow Ministers in the Liberal Democrat and Conservative party. We have also have a long list of people to meet in coming weeks who weren’t able to meet with us at the party conference. On the whole, MPs have been receptive and keen to hear from us – and there is a sense that the NDCS ‘brand’ is increasingly better known in political circles.
And, of course, having a young deaf person at the Liberal Democrat party conference made a huge difference. It’s an experiment we’ll be looking to repeat in future years.
But how was it really? The Guardian has an interesting article (warning: this article contains naughty words) on this quotes a man comparing it to a freshers’ week
“Quite exciting, but quite stressful,” he added. “You keep thinking, am I having a good time? Or do I actually want to go home now? You never feel quite sure if people like you or not. And you keep wondering if you’re missing something better going on somewhere else.”
I can sympathise. It’s a very odd feeling to be on edge all the time, like a meerkat looking to see what’s going on 24 hours a day. It’s also a pretty tiring experience to do three times over three weeks. I refer to the conferences as the travelling circus, purely because you to get to meet many of the same lobbyists and charities again. And again. And again. It’s like Groundhog Day. But it was still all very enjoyable. Now that some time has elapsed I’m nearly looking forward to doing the same thing all over again next year!