It was a rainy grey Wednesday last January when scrolling through Facebook I saw a post: Vacancy for a councillor in Bradley Stoke North. Friends started ‘tagging’ me to tell me they thought I should go for it, having been very active in my community for many years. I wondered if it could be the next step in my dedication to the grassroots movement.
I was nervous. Could someone like me, do something like this? I had many conversations that helped me see this was a positive path to consider. I heard people tell me great lines like: ‘Be the change you want to see’ and ‘It’s better to light a flamethrower than curse the darkness’ When I considered the disproportionate amount of women on our council (1 woman, 13 men) I could hear my suffragette ancestors telling me: ‘We haven’t come this far Angela, to come this far’
With the support of neighbours and local friends I called the election and delivered my entry forms.
Running my campaign (as an independent having not been a member of a political party) I really started to find my confidence, and with every encouraging remark I felt the heavy weight of the imposter syndrome I carried around with me, lighten just a touch. I worked hard on my campaign, promoting myself, educating people who hadn’t voted before, reassuring everyone I spoke to that my track record in community engagement spoke for itself, I was simply running as I cared about our area. That’s the people they need around that table.
My hard work paid off and I was declared the winner. That feeling was amazing, something I won’t ever forget. In a very clue area, it proved a point, people want effective local candidates who are genuinely care about the direction of their town and who are capable of listening to residents.
And so I got to work. Spreading my positive energy and delivering on the promises I had made in my campaign. I was acutely aware I was only in my seat because of my voters and I wasn’t about to let them down and fall silent. Now 8 months into the role and I can honestly say it was the best decision. It has helped me find confidence in my voice, as a mother it gives me a sense of purpose outside my family home, it has allowed me to provide the bridge between the residents of Bradley Stoke and their council, whilst ensuring I maintain transparency and scrutinise the work of the officers.
Joining the Labour party has felt like finally finding a place I belong, and I have no doubt that Labour’s policies are vital to ensure social justice in my community along with everywhere else in the UK. With each local win an unspoken message is sent to the powers higher up, that voters trust and want Labour values at the forefront on society. On a local level and nationally. Canvassing for Labour as a town councillor now is a great way to chat to residents on their doorsteps to hear any local issues and their views on the mess that is our current government. Change is most definitely in the air.
I sincerely hope I am able to inspire and empower others to take the next step and stand to be a town or parish councillor. The rewards are so multifaceted, both for yourself and your community.