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Working at Bishop's House

University student, Seb Tatum, writes about his experience working for Bishop Christopher over the summer.

Whilst working for the Bishop, the range and depth of the issues I have helped with has far exceeded my greatest expectations. To be allowed to come in to such an active and important environment, and immediately to be trusted to contribute to such valuable work has been an enormous privilege.

Applying much of what I’ve been practising for my course at university - writing briefing papers, summarising long texts, and providing longer, more detailed reports, among other things, has been extremely beneficial. Not just in the practising and refining of these skill, but also by being fully immersed in the context in which they are relevant.

This does, however, include the very real scenario in which, having formulated a piece of work over a number of days - and well in advance - a sudden change outside of your control puts whatever you’ve prepared for on the ‘backseat’, and instead creates a situation in which you’re rapidly having to produce something entirely new within a very short, and very fixed deadline. In my limited time at Bishop’s House, I experienced this on a number occasions.

In one such - in only my second week volunteering - whilst at the House of Lords, a briefing paper of mine, instead of being put to the bottom of the pile, was adopted by the Archbishop of Canterbury for his question to the Lords, which, in fairness, was almost as good as having it used by Bishop Christopher himself!

While it was the parliamentary and foreign affairs work of Bishop Christopher that lead me to have an interest in undertaking work experience at Bishop’s House, it is impossible to ignore how interwoven Christianity is within all the work that happens here. I must confess that prior to this placement, my knowledge of church politics was limited to whatever I overheard as a child whilst accompanying my Grandma to Mothers’ Union coffee mornings.

Having the opportunity to attend General Synod for three days, in addition to the numerous spirited discussions in the office with Fred and Joe, has really opened my eyes to the diversity and passion of views within the church.

General Synod was extremely enlightening, both for my understanding of the inner working of the church, but also getting to meet a wide variety of people, all of whom held views different to my own and each other, but were all united by faith. Incidentally, it was in fact mealtimes that were my favourite part of Synod. Sitting down at an eight person table, three times a day, and being joined by a totally new group of people each time who were all extremely friendly and welcoming was a delight.

And this leads me nicely to the best part of working at Bishop’s House, which is the people. As the mentor for my work experience, Fred Kratt, was extraordinarily patient, supportive, and kind in his guidance and friendship. But equally everyone at Bishop’s House contributed to such a brilliant and positive environment, and they have made my time here fantastic.

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