Claire was followed over her Year Dot as she balanced university commitments with her thriving political career...

Claire's Story

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Claire Hazelgrove

A bright future

04/12/2009

Claire spent her Year Dot juggling the demands of her final year at uni with being Labour’s Prospective Parliamentary Candidate for Skipton and Ripon. Here she reflects on the highs and lows of her year. While she's realistic about her uncertain political future, she's excited about all the challenges that lie ahead.


Claire's to do list

  1. Meet constituents and be seen as a reliable candidate
  2. Finish my degree and graduate with a 2:1 from York
  3. Focus on some key issues, such as affordable housing and education and deal with important local issues as they arise
  4. Increase Labour’s vote in the local elections
  5. Encourage other young people to get involved in politics and join the campaign
  6. Hopefully campaign in America for Barack Obama in the summer
  7. Find a job for after graduation
  8. Still have a normal life as well!

Claire's big plan

Posted: 30/06/2008

Hi, I’m Claire Hazelgrove and I’m the Labour Party’s Prospective Parliamentary Candidate for Skipton and Ripon. What makes me a bit different to most other candidates is that I’m actually still 19 and a second year politics student at the University of York.

This year will see me adapting to my new role as a young politician, whilst still carrying on my studies at university. It will be really exciting as my life has already changed so much since I got selected, and I really do never know what each day will hold. You’ll see me in Parliament, out on the campaign trail, dealing with issues in the area, speaking at events and possibly even standing in the general election if is held before June 2009. I will also be coming to the end of my degree and figuring out what to do with my life after university – a real challenge for any student – let alone when I need to find a job where I will be able to take time out of work to campaign.

This is a real life changing experience, it has its ups and its downs. Politics definitely isn’t always glamorous, it’s hard work and there’s a lot of negativity too that I have to face. A main aim of mine is to show that if I can do this, anyone can be involved in politics, or do whatever it is they want to do if they really stick at it.

Claire's journal

Final Update: 07/12/2009

Hi everyone...

Wow, I haven't been on here for a while...and now I'm writing to say a massive thank you, and to give you a last up date for YearDot before the show and project are archived (gulp!)

So since I last wrote a blog (back in May!) so much has happened. I suppose in a way it would have been a good idea to have kept on with the blogs, but once you get out of a habit it's not always easy to pick it back up again... But I'm glad I've got a chance to let you know how it's all going, because it's been a very busy, good, uncertain, and at times difficult 6 months, but the thing is - it's all working out ok now.

The last video you saw was me finishing my degree, moving to London, and looking for work, whilst still wanting to be as involved in politics as possible. Well all that's done now, I've been living in the big smoke for half a year, worked all summer (I had one weekend off between June and September) and then started a fixed job in the welfare-to-work industry, which is involved in helping find long-term unemployed people find work.

But it really wasn't at all easy finding a job. Seriously, it's so tough out there right now. As you all well know, politics is my absolute love, but there were hardly any jobs going, and so many incredibly well qualified people for each post that it was starting to look impossible. I've been so lucky in that I managed to find a good job, and get to travel around and visit all different areas and meet so many different people.

But the summer wasn't exactly the easiest of times, with so much worry about what job I'd be doing, and so many of my friends really struggling too. Whilst at the same time it seemed others were getting their 'perfect job', and you can't help but ask what you're doing wrong, and what more you could have on your CV when you've done years of work, vounteering, and done well academically too. I didn't go away on the break I'd been planning in my head for months (well, except to Labour Party Conference and to visit a friend at university in Holland for 3 days).

But anyway, it's December now and as I mentioned above, things are definitely back on track. I'm very grateful for the security I now have, as the prospect of having to pay rent without know what job I was going to have wasn't much fun.

In terms of life after uni, I completely miss having the freedom to structure my day however I felt was best, and having the time to do all this other stuff too, and having so many friends literally just around the corner. But no, I don't really miss the academic work. Great uni, great department, but academia's just not my passion.

Labour Party Conference was great, and life's settling down a bit now. Just in time for election craziness to kick in! We all know it's coming in the next few months, and the campaign is going to be tough. But I think it's absolutely all left to play for. Gordon Brown had a great session at PMQs on Wednesday, and we're still ploughing ahead with so many great policies that the idea that our government is in any way out of steam just quite simply isn't right.

As I went into in my last blog, there's so many reasons to have a Labour government, and avoiding savage Tory cuts in our schools and hospitals, not to mention their unfair tax policies that would only benefit the very rich and ignore normal people like us, there are still so many reasons to get out and fight for Labour.

If you have a spare couple of mins, this "fighters and believers" video shows just why we still need a Labour government - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WA3H07Se0ZQ

I promise it's worth a watch.

Tomorrow's 'The Wave' march, which is taking place in a few different places in the country, and I'm going to the one here in London to help give the government the support they need before the Copenhagen Summit where they'll do their best to get a binding agreement on what countries will do to tackle climate change.

It's worth taking part in, here's more info (see if there's one near you) - http://www.stopclimatechaos.org/the-wave.

I'll head off in a minute, but I just have one more thing to say. Thank you.

Thank you so much to every single person who has read even half of one of these blogs, watched the videos, seen the show, and got in touch with me over the last year and a half. My life has changed beyond recognition, and it's not always been easy, but it's been so nice talking to so many of you, hearing your stories, and hopefully showing that you too can absolutely do anything you believe in.

And I also hope I've shown that not all politicians are bad, and most of us really do go into it all for the love, passion, and sheer belief in what we're fighting for. Please don't give up on us. Get involved yourselves, and help show the critics that young people have so, so much to give. And please never, ever let anyone tell you you're too young or inexperienced to do what it is you feel passionately about. That's rubbish.

But also, I hope you've seen over the last year and a bit that the journey can be (and should be) really very tough at times too. It has been for me. But just keep going. Even when you think "that's it, I just can't do this anymore", remember what Obama said - Yes You Can. And he's not wrong.

I've learned a lot of lessons over the course of the show, and even more since, but staying true to yourself, and to those who matter to you most, is absolutely the standard you should hold yourself to. The rest, as they say, will follow in time. And I promise it will.

Good luck with everything, and please do keep in touch. The blogs will be very few and far between, but I still get all the messages and will do my best to reply.

Take care,

Claire xxx

PS. If you've not yet had enough of me yet, then you can follow me on Twitter at www.twitter.com/CHazelgrove (I'm a lot better at keeping that up-to-date than I ever was at this!)

Read all of Claire's blogs

Still want more?

Hoping to get into politics yourself? Looking for politics and citizenship resources to use in your classroom? Check out the websites below...

Claire's Website

Claire's blog spot

Join Claire's Facebook support group

Teaching News

Education Service

Teaching Ideas

Get involved with The Youth Parliament

Your messages

Claire's feedback has been incredible:

Hi Claire, I just wanted to say that what you are doing has really influenced me to stand up for what I believe in. I am 13 and am coming up to the part of my school life where I need to have the confidence to choose what subjects and career I want to do personly and not be put down or made to follow the crowd due to peer pressure. You have always held you head high and looked on the positive side of what you do and dont let negative comments upset you. So I suppose I just wanted to thank you and say that if you ever do become the Labour candidate, you will have my vote and support. It sounds so stupi but I thought I'd let you know. Bye... xo.HazeL.ox

Hazel (1884 days ago) Report Comment

Hi Claire
Just wanted to pass on my best wishes for the future. I came across this project while off sick last week and am now hooked! Having been told so many times 'young people aren't interested in politics/dont vote' etc etc it is refreshing to come across someone like you. Roll on the 2010 election!
Lesley

Lesley (1885 days ago) Report Comment

i swear u best get sumwhere in this ur too good not to i just watched ur show on channle 4 i watched a load and only urs is the 1 i wanted 2 comment on wen the elections in america were closing u didnt give up u ran around still trying 2 get ppl 2 vote we need ppl like u with that much of a passion

sam o'mara (1891 days ago) Report Comment

Hi - just saw your Year Dot programme. I know that was quite a while ago now! I was totally apathetic about politics until 1. A friend of mine started encouraging me to think about it more, 2. I read 1984! and 3. I found out more about the suffragettes. All of these could be tackled in school - perhaps schools could have a peer representative to encourage students to get involved (got to be someone who is respected in school!) and the fight for the vote should always be part of the history curriculum.

Congratulations on what you're doing.

Alys (1897 days ago) Report Comment

Hi Claire,
First of all congratulations on your enthusiasm for politics, its fantastic that someone so young is getting involved. A word of caution though, after being a candidate in local elections myself, I was 22 at the time, the best advice I could give you is absolutely keep you hand in with the campaigning and so on but have some time working in normal jobs outside of politics though. Too many people in politics are career politicians and it really affects their ability to do the job, particularly with Labour actually seeing first hand what unions do from an employee point of view will really help you. Best of luck!

katie (1897 days ago) Report Comment

Hi Claire,

Could you please tell me what different career's you can pursue with a politics degree?
x

Chloe (1933 days ago) Report Comment

Picture of Claire HazelgroveHi everyone,

I just wanted to say thank you for all of your commements and let you know how nice it is to hear from you guys and to know that you're watching. It really is amazing to have the support of people who I've never met, and really nice of you to take the time to leave messages.

I'm really glad that you all see this as a positive - it's not always easy to fight against the well enshrined traditions of something like the political system, but really is worth it if you guys see this and think that you might consider giving something like this a go too.

Too often young people are told that we can't, and shouldn't do things, but I actually think that the perspective that we have to offer is incredibly valuable to something like politics, because in the end it's OUR futures they're discussing in there, and so why shouldn't we be involved?

I'm sure you've all felt it too - that familiar frustration at knowing you really care about something and have so much to give - but just not being able to.

If more people like you get involved as well then they'll have to listen to us.

Thanks again for your comments, I really do appreciate your support.

Keep in touch, and just go for whatever it is you care about because, in the end, the worst they can say is no...and then you just go and prove them wrong.

Good luck guys.

Claire

Claire Hazelgrove (2081 days ago) Report Comment

Hiya Claire,
I definately think you are an inspiration to all young people, especially if they are not really into politics. You are basically showing them that politics is not just for old men, but involves us. Despite some people thinking you are too young, it's great to see that you are still very determined to get where you want. As you said "you don't just wake up at 30 and think, yes now i'm ready to be a politician". ;-] Good luck for the rest of your ventures.

Cymone (2090 days ago) Report Comment

Hi Claire,

First off, I just want to say how much of an inspiration you are to young people. I'm also at university (studying Economics at the LSE), and you have made me realise how much more I could be doing in my life. You juggling so much is very impressive.

I watched your episode last week and totally disagree with the 'old farts' that think you're too young to be an MP. In my opinion, you're exactly what this country needs - a younger MP who's more in touch with the next generation and genuinely knows first hand the issues we face.

I fully support you and can only wish you the very best for the future - you're going to go on to do great things!

Alex Nikolic (2091 days ago) Report Comment

Hey Claire!

I've been watching your videos for a while now, so I thought I'd leave a note to say hi!

You'll probably be pleased to hear that your enthusiasm for politics is really infectious. It's really interesting seeing what you've gotten up to in the political sphere, whilst still working towards your degree. It's making me feel lazy!

All the best with your Year Dot - looks like you're well on the way to achieving your goals already! xx

Tammy (2091 days ago) Report Comment

hi claire, iv just seen your new yeardot program, its really good how your going to the labour conferences and meetings and sticking up for yourself, i think its really nice that someone our age is trying to do something good to represent people our age. well done on all the work you done in america for the obama campaign!! you done really well, well done for not giving up on anything! i think you have coped really well with the slating you recieved inb them blogs about your fundraiser idea, you have coped really well with it and i dont think you need to question your ability to do well in politics you are doing really well and i hope you continue to do so.
love jess xx

Jess (2094 days ago) Report Comment

good times....always glad to see labour people!! and labour york people, will probably be going to york to do politics, which is exciting times, good look with the election, presumabey it not a swing seat??

im interested in a political career as well, so ye, very interesting

ben (2100 days ago) Report Comment

Hi everyone, thanks for your messages, and apologies for not having gotten back to you sooner but hopefully I'll be able to answer most of your questions now...

Hi Tom - great to hear that you're standing for your school council. I was on mine for a while and it's amazing how much the teachers take things on board that you put forwards, as sometimes it's helpful for them to hear things from another perspective. One way of trying to get people on board is by going and talking at the start of individual classes. Pick a few key ideas that you think are the most important to everyone in the school and the more you talk about them, the more you'll become associated with them. Also, posters with your experience and ideas are a good idea. Sweets and cakes work can also wonders in school elections...good luck!

Claire

Claire Hazelgrove (2100 days ago) Report Comment

WELL DONE!!! You're so impressive and I wish you all the best xoxo

Kathy (2102 days ago) Report Comment