Mary and Maura visit Westminster

We love to share what we’ve been getting up to on our news page. There’s often too much to choose from and it’s hard to know what to write about first! But this time it was easy, because it’s not every day we get to go to the Houses of Parliament…

Maura and Mary took a trip to the Houses of Parliament on 13 December to attend a Christmas Reception. The Reception was hosted by the National Council for Voluntary Organisations (NCVO) and the All-Parties Parliamentary Group on Charities and Volunteering. This Group provides a forum to discuss the issues affecting the voluntary and community sector.

Once a year they hold a Christmas Reception, and invite a host of people from businesses and voluntary organisations along. Mary and Maura were thrilled to attend on Yarrow’s behalf.

Making their way to Westminster by Tube, they arrived with time to spare for a few photos before heading in.

Photos of Mary outside the Houses of Parliament
The Houses of Parliament in the sunshine
Photo of Mary and Maura on a bridge over the Thames river near Parliament
Maura and Mary at Westminster

Once inside, they indulged in a spot of MP-watching from the public gallery. It was very busy in Parliament, as it was also the day of Prime Minister Theresa May’s confidence vote, so there were lots of MPs about! Mary and Maura even spotted Jeremy Corbyn, whom Mary thought she recognised from some of our art sessions at The Gate – but we think perhaps he’s a little too busy!

A photo of Mary inside Parliament copying the post of a statue
Mary admiring the impressive décor!

Both admitted to being slightly awe-struck by the impressive surroundings, but luckily, they were only warned once that they would end up in the dungeons if they didn’t display their security badges…

Maura and Mary inside the Houses of Parliament
Maura and Mary inside the Houses of Parliament

After watching a debate, they went on to the Reception where they drank lots of tea and ate plenty of canapés. They also met and chatted with a lot of interesting people: Maura estimates that there were around 200 people there. People seemed to make a beeline to talk to Mary and Maura, perhaps in part because they were the only ones there wearing jeans and trainers!

Mary and Maura also took along some copies of John’s new book, Food. John is another person that Yarrow supports, and his beautiful book of photography gave everyone a great insight into what people with learning disabilities can achieve:

A photo of John Athnasious' book, called Food
John Athnasious’ book, Food

It seems that Yarrow was also one of the only organisations to attend the Reception with someone that we support. Hopefully we will have inspired others to do so next year, because we think it’s so important that people with learning disabilities are visible in the House of Commons. Too often out of sight can mean out of mind. It’s vital that MPs can spend time with those with learning disabilities and other complex needs, getting to know them as people. This will help to make sure that their needs aren’t overlooked during policy making in future.

What an inspiring day out, our thanks again to NCVO and the All-Parties Parliamentary Group on Charities and Volunteering for the invitation!

Mary enjoying the view of the Thames from Parliament at night time
Mary enjoying the view of the Thames
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