Inspired to stand by 50:50!

By Susan Coleman Shropshire

I have been inspired to get politically involved!

The turning point came a year ago on 21 November 2018 when I went to the Houses of Parliament, having secured an invite from my MP to attend 50:50 Parliament’s  #AskHerToStand day.

I had worked in #STEM (Science Technology Engineering Maths) for 5 years bringing together school children age 5-15 with employers to encourage girls to aspire to careers in these sectors. I realised that the hurdles they faced about encountering a lack of visible women in those roles also applied to our Parliament. If you don’t see it you won’t aspire to be it! 

On the #AskHerToStand day I arrived at Westminster with an open mind, one that I wanted to fill with information and knowledge from women around me who had entered politics. What drove them? How do you go about it? What are the hurdles? Did I even want to do it? 

I’m a chatterbox by nature but I hardly said a word all day because I was so bowled over by the women I met.  An amazing sisterhood; cross party; just wanting to get things done 

I felt like I had been hidden in the depths of the ocean for decades and suddenly popped to the surface to be surrounded by 300 other women who got CROSS about things and wanted to change them! Hearing from Frances Scott, Helen Pankhurst, Rosie Duffield MP, Flick Drummond, Eleanor Smith MP, Maria Miller MP, Baroness Anne Jenkin, Fleur Butler was a joy and so inspiring!

So, I signed up to stand via 50:50Parliament.

Three hours on the train home gave much food for thought and on coming back to Shropshire I began to reach out for the help available and ferret about to get some when it wasn’t. A chance encounter on Facebook with a local business woman led to me applying to go on the approved Councillor candidate list. I also got involved in Conservative Women’s Organisation and was made Deputy Chair in the West Midlands, charged with growing the number of groups in the region. This is a big task and just the sort of challenge I relish. Fortunately, being  61, I have more time on my hands to undertake this voluntary work. 

Exactly 12 months to the day I have been selected as a candidate for my Council in the next local elections in 2021, giving me 18 months to get stuck in and learn about my ward.

In this picture I’m on the right in a red coat blissfully unaware of what the year ahead would bring!