As part of our 2018 Local Election coverage, we have contacted each candidate standing in 16 wards across South West Birmingham, asking them to contribute to this election’s ’500 Words’ series.
Each candidate has been invited to describe themselves and their campaigns in their own words. Their submissions will be published – without editing – in the order that they are received. Should they be longer than 500 words, they will be cropped.
With the formation of new wards across the city, this is an all-out election, with every seat up for grabs. Some wards have one seat and some have two. Learn more about the ward changes and your candidates.
Our latest submission comes from one of two Labour candidates for Bartley Green ward, where two seats are being decided: Joanne Shemmans
I am forty-six years old, a mother and grandmother, and proud Brummie. A lifelong Labour Party supporter, some of my earliest memories are of my family shouting angrily at the television whenever Maggie Thatcher’s face appeared, much in the way that some families become passionate during a favourite sporting event.
I’ve seen how austerity has eaten away at local communities, taking opportunity and hope from hard working families, including my own. My mother is a pensioner with health issues, living in council housing, and has been hit by the Bedroom Tax as well as the appalling situation in our NHS. My son is a full time student, as well as a full time single parent, and in addition to worrying about the rising debt of his student loan, has to deal with the stress of Universal Credit. These stories are not uncommon, I hear similar, and far, far worse, when out campaigning in Birmingham. I feel politicians have lost touch with working class communities, and in the Labour Party, it is our job to show them that we are their voice.
In Bartley Green, 36% of children are living in poverty. Families face the challenge of austerity, cuts to public services, and the fear of crime and anti-social behaviour as a result of the fall in police numbers. Young people are often drawn into crime due to lack of opportunities. This needs to change.
I am passionate about fighting against Tory cuts to local services, and worried about the impact they are having on the lives of ordinary people. I want to work with local community groups, law enforcement and other agencies to make a change needed in Bartley Green, and regenerate the area to become a vibrant and safe community.
If elected on May 3rd, I will start work immediately, listening to residents and running a fortnightly surgery for them to raise concerns with me directly. I will fight for opportunities and equality for everyone in the community, and make sure local residents have a voice on the council.