It’s official: pester power works! Graduate Fog’s dogged determination to secure a meeting about unpaid internships with the Department for Education has finally paid off – following more than two YEARS of emailing them, a week’s extended deadline challenge, and further 10 days of trolling the education minister Damian Hinds on Twitter.

Okay, we weren’t actually trolling – our tweets were never aggressive or abusive. But after months of being stonewalled by Hinds’ department, our frustration had grown to such a level that we decided to send him daily reminders on Twitter that we were STILL waiting to hear back from his team (who had said they would be in touch “this week” to set up a meeting… back in June). While we’ve waited, several hundred thousand new graduates have emerged from university this summer, with many facing the prospect of doing months of unpaid internships, or having their career ambitions thwarted simply because they can’t afford to work for free.

So, every day, we found a new way ask why we still hadn’t heard from Hinds’ department, including his own Twitter handle @DamianHinds and the Department for Education @educationgovuk.

For additional back-up, we Cc’d influential supporters of our mission to make access to jobs fairer to young people from all backgrounds, including Stella Creasy MP, Chuka Umunna MP, Liam Byrne MP, activists Gina Miller, Jack Monroe and Jolyon Maugham, TUC chief Frances O’Grady, and fellow interns campaigners Intern Aware and Lord Chris Holmes. 

For those who relish this kind of thing, the entire thread is below. (We’ll continue it until we the meeting actually happens).

Happily, this response arrived in our inbox on Friday:

Sorry for the delay in response to your request.  Policy officials who have interest in the area of graduate employability would like to meet with you. Please provide some dates of your availability for the first two weeks of September, I will ensure that you are contacted next week to agree a mutually suitable time.

For those interested in how we came to such a desperate place, read the background here – including similar stonewalling by Hinds’ predecessor Justine Greening, whose gatekeepers dismissed our offer to outline solutions to the unpaid internships problem TWICE, and told us to go to the Parliamentary Ombudsman if we didn’t like their decision. (The Parliamentary Ombudsman then also turned us away too – but that’s a story for another day).

Being custard-pied has been knackering – but Graduate Fog is made of tough stuff. We’ll make sure we regain our strength in time for the meeting, so we can represent you all – that’s current interns, former interns, and people who can’t afford to intern – to the best of our ability.

When the meeting happens, we will post on Graduate Fog to tell you how it went, including any actions that the Department for Education has agreed to, so you can follow our next round of progress in real time. Let’s hope we can put a rocket under Mr Hinds’ department, and pick up the pace from here. It could hardly get any slower..!


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