Tuesday, 21 May 2013

Making a difference as a Councillor

It has been over three weeks since I was officially elected as Councillor in South Heaton, in Newcastle. And what an exciting and busy time it’s been over the last few months, with a well-fought election campaign and many hours of pounding the streets and meeting people beforehand to gain the welcomed success achieved on 25 April. Not least grasping the opportunity to raise awareness for The National Autistic Society in personal campaign literature along the way. Every little helps!

It was great to be out and about meeting residents in the ward and feeling able to share my personal story and purpose for wanting to become involved in local politics in the city. As many families and individuals know there have been huge amounts of excellent work undertaken up and down the country by the NAS, other charities and public sector organisations over the years to support those individuals and their families living with autism, but as with all things more can be done to improve things such as levels of awareness, access to services, therapies, pathways to diagnosis, training for staff and real choice, to name but a few. The approach to all of the aforementioned is ever more important in the current economic climate where funding is limited and organisations are feeling the pressure.

Running for Council was a natural step for me personally, and one where I felt I could make my best contribution, having been inspired at the NAS training event in London by speakers, NAS staff and fellow Ambassadors. Being able to make a positive impact and contribution to improve the lives of people and families living with autism was the way I hoped to go forward and so the journey began.

Since being elected I’ve managed to take part in a ‘round the table discussion’ along with others about ‘Making Rights a Reality for Disabled People’ meeting Liam Byrne MP and Anne McGuire MP. It feels rewarding to see that the hard work to gain election success has provided the opportunity to feed into such discussion and perhaps even future policy. It is important to me that the views of real people, tackling and facing issues on a daily basis are shared with those who can make things happen! Even in the smallest steps.

For me this is just the beginning of a two year journey as Councillor (more beyond if I’m re-elected) to progress work towards a better life for all residents in the ward and across the city impacting, challenging and debating where I can across health, social care and education and other services to improve quality and choice. As part of that work remit I intend to keep the vision of individuals and families in mind as I evolve into my new role and take on the great responsibility of serving the public.


1 comment:

  1. Wow! Well done, Denise, this is amazing!

    I got involved in local politics myself just over 18 months ago, and have found it a really good way to get involved in the community. Would love to be a Councillor too; but vacancies for the role have really dried up recently, so I may just have to be patient...