Rhian Greaves, Bristol's youngest City Councillor, talks about what inspired her to stand for election for the Labour Party.
I am Rhian, and I'm a twenty-four year old woman from South Wales.
I am the youngest and the first severely hearing impaired councillor on Bristol city council. I was elected as a Labour councillor for the ward of Brislington West in east Bristol in May 2014.
This blog is a place for me to share my experiences of being a young disabled female councillor and I sincerely hope that this will encourage more young, hardworking, passionate and dynamic people to become involved in politics.
So, you're probably wondering why a young person wants to do this. Let me give you some background to how I got here today. I come from a very small town called Llantrisant which is not far from Cardiff. The town itself is not a mining town but there were many mines and collieries nearby. Growing up as a child, I became acutely aware of the impact of the closures of the mines upon communities and families. All throughout my childhood, I was told to be assertive and fight for my rights. I have to admit I thought that politics was not for me. Why would I when all the newspapers and the news report are political scandal after scandal with a large number of men who class themselves as belonging to an elite class.
The light bulb moment for me was when I studying Government and Politics for my A Level as an 18 year old. During a particular lesson on British politics, I was told that there were low numbers of women who were MPs or in
local government and that there was a lack of representation for those from different backgrounds. Politics was all about the male, pale and stale. I began to realise that in order to change this, women had to get involved. This realisation was the catalyst for me to join the Labour Party plus they were offering a very tempting offer of a membership fee of £1 per year for students!
So why the Labour Party? Across the South Wales coalfield, the Labour Party has historically been politically dominant; especially in the constituency of Pontypridd (whose current MP is the wonderful, energetic and intelligent Owen Smith MP). I joined the Labour Party because it is strongly committed to encouraging women to stand as candidates, for example naming some wards/constituencies as all women shortlists, as well as its values for social equality and justice. When I went to my first constituency meeting in Pontypridd, the treasurer, the secretary and the chair were all women who made me feel very welcome. This demonstrated to me the value of equality and that constituencies were putting these values into practice.
Over the years since I have been a member of various CLPs, the number of women who I have met who were or are elected representatives of the Labour Party such as Dawn Primarolo DBE, Kerry McCarthy MP, Glenys Kinnock, Jean Corston, Julie Morgan AM and many others left a lasting impact on me. Within the Labour Party, I feel that my voice is represented and hopefully other people are encouraged to feel so too.