Sienna Sexton is our JPIT/Parliamentary intern for 2023-2024, using half of her time to further the Joint Public Issues Team’s workplan and the other half gaining experience in the parliamentary office of Cat Smith MP. Here, Sienna tells us about her journey of justice-seeking.
I have had a very strong sense of justice from an early age. Infamously, during a last-minute Christmas shopping trip, in the middle of a busy store, I loudly declared to my mum that no thank you, I would not be interested in the lovely jumper she was showing me, because it was the product of exploitation and oppression! I may even have gone so far as to say it was ‘sewn with the blood, sweat and tears of exploited women and children’. I didn’t get the jumper for Christmas.
As my desire to engage with political and social issues has grown, I also hope that I have developed a deeper, more tactful and nuanced response to injustices, but you will have to ask my family!
My pursuit of justice and personal faith have always gone hand in hand. I grew up in a family where lively debates and discussions around religion and politics were embraced rather than avoided. As Christians working in development, my parents modelled a faith where seeking justice, loving your neighbour and offering hospitality were natural outflows of being followers of Jesus.
As a result of my parents’ work in international development, I grew up in Zimbabwe, Uganda and the USA before we eventually moved to Norwich. Growing up in these contexts, as the child of parents’ working with refugees and asylum seekers, victims of human trafficking and vulnerable children, I was exposed to very real injustices in the world and in the lives of our friends. As I grew older I became increasingly aware of my own privilege.
Navigating relationships, faith and the world, these experiences and friendships profoundly shaped me. They instilled in me a conviction to use my life to work for justice as part of following Jesus. At university, I joined Just Love (a movement of students seeking to pursue Jesus-shaped justice). There, I began to develop campaigning skills and a theological understanding that deepened and gave language to this conviction.
Since university, where I studied Politics and International Relations, I have spent two years working for Just Love, supporting and resourcing students and graduates in their faith and social justice action. Now, in this new role, I am excited about the opportunity to be part of the push towards a more just society in a new way, by working with the Joint Public Issues Team to ‘go upstream’.
Although I’m not sure what this year will hold exactly, I am looking forward to learning about our political system and developing advocacy and campaigning skills. I am also excited to meet people from a diverse range of political, religious and social backgrounds. I hope that through meeting people with different ideas about how we can create a more just and peaceful future for the UK and the wider world, that my opinions and views will be challenged and changed. I hope and pray that I will bring a little bit of the peace, grace and compassion I have experienced from Jesus to the halls of our government as I embark on this year.