What inspired you to get involved in politics?
I was inspired to get involved in politics by observing people like Jack Ashley and seeing how he operated as a politician and what he was able to achieve. Disabled people must be represented in the political system, and if you want to make a change that matters to you.
What advice would you give to other disabled people who want to play a role in politics?
It is important to represent yourself. Yes, as a councillor you will have to allocate time to do your duties but it does not have to be all consuming of your time and with experience you develop a sense of where to put your energies. Yes, the job of councillor is challenging yet at the same time it is rewarding. From assisting a resident with a problem to implementing something within the local community which makes a difference to people’s lives. Don’t allow uncertainty to get the better of you, sign up and you’ll see you will make it work. One piece of advice, get a mentor to support you.
What skills do you need to be successful in politics?
I have come to understand the role through eleven years of experience. Communication skills are paramount in being a local councillor, in one-to-one situations dealing with case work, in group situations like Residents’ Association meetings, and in more formal situations when at the Council. Strategic planning is necessary to know what to say and how to do work towards achieving planned objectives. Working with groups and individuals to get them to participate and make contributions toward achieving objectives is the key to effectiveness.
What do you enjoy about working in political life?
I enjoy all aspects of being a councillor, but I particularly enjoy working in my ward of Longthornton on community issues such as local crime, fly-tipping, planning and development. One of my biggest achievements was working with members of the community to get a community centre. I am a firm believer that within every local community there should be a community centre. It keeps the community alive because people meet and talk to each other members of the community meet to engage in community activities and in so doing talk to each other and are kept informed of what’s going on around them.
I believe that local projects should involve the democratic participation of members of the community. The local community will be enhanced and local people in the community will feel they have contributed. I am passionate about equalities issues: societies work better when there is equality.