I never planned to become a politician. When people with whom I studied at university went straight into politics without ever having had a real job, I found this incredible! Too many MPs have never experienced the trials of trying to bring up a family with low incomes and high childcare costs, or run a business in difficult economic times.
My working life has been as a teacher and manager in secondary and further education, and as a Cognitive Behavioural Therapist in an NHS setting. I have also run my own business and am a director of several social enterprises – non profit-making businesses that provide a service for their local community.
Over the last 10 years I’ve seen family, friends and colleagues struggling with the sort of problems we all face in everyday life. Perhaps fighting to get support for a handicapped child, having a house repossessed after redundancy, dealing with parents who have Alzheimer’s, facing problems with making ends meet, not getting proper compensation from an insurance scheme. I saw how many of them had to fight to get the support they needed, and I wanted to do something about it. I became convinced of the importance of advocacy, especially for the struggling and less well off, and of the need to push to make sure that people being treated unfairly get a fair deal.
I realised, that as a politician, I could make a difference to the lives of hundreds of people: through building affordable housing, setting up a scheme to train the unemployed, getting £220,000 of European funding to support local businesses, challenging a planning application or just supporting people with the issues that concern them.
I’ve built my reputation as a councillor on working hard to push for what the people who elect me want. To really represent them and on going the last mile in order to succeed on their behalf. That’s exactly what I will hope to do as an MP.