I’m delighted to announce that I have put myself forward as a Labour candidate in the Manchester Gorton by-election to champion a more open, inclusive and participatory politics which puts local people centre stage.

The theme of International Womens Day this year is #BeBoldForChange. As a coach, facilitator, community organiser and a mum, I’m constantly encouraging people to be bold, to step forward. Over the last week alone I’ve been inspired by the many bold acts of women and men, young and old, who are working with passion and determination to make life better for people and to care for our world. It is with them in mind that I now step forward.

Manchester-born, I live in Whalley Range with my family. Growing up here I’ve seen the barriers to opportunity and feel a strong sense of responsibility to break them down.

I am known for my ‘strong values, determination to get things done and tremendous energy’. I will bring a new energy to the Manchester Gorton constituency and to Parliament.

I am deeply rooted in my local community. Raised by an extended family of strong Manchester activists I believe in the skills of local people and the power of collaboration and community.  I will bring people together to drive a positive, people powered energy for change.

As a local activist myself, a social entrepreneur and a former solicitor I have a breadth of experience to include: public law and policy across education, health and social care; workplace equality and wellbeing; innovation and community organising.

I’ve demonstrated my love for and commitment to the local area over the years as a governor and active member of the local school community; through my work on Manchester’s Scrutiny Committee for Children & Young People; as a Trustee of Manchester City of Sanctuary and a friend of the refugee community; and through the various community projects and initiatives I’ve been involved in to include setting up a cycling project in Alexandra Park and supporting the First Steps project on Withington Road.

The inequality of investment that exists between the North and South of our country and between the ‘haves’ and the ‘have nots’ in our society, is the lived experience of residents across the Gorton constituency and can be seen on our streets, in our schools, in our care system and in our workplaces and job centres.

People feel excluded from our economy and from our politics. There is growing recognition that our current economic model isn’t working and that we need to do things differently. I’ve seen devolution as a timely opportunity to take a step towards a different model and have subsequently welcomed and supported the approach taken by Andy Burnham, as the Labour candidate for Mayor, in creating more space for people’s voice in policy formation and building a viable economic alternative for Greater Manchester. Manchester’s people, place and purse continue to take the brunt of Tory cuts. People are looking for inspiration, for hope and for ways to make a difference. This includes a call for leaders that are more representative and collaborative, who are ready to include and to propose radical alternatives. With this in mind I have most recently been been a driver within #DivaManc and the Parliament Project helping grow women’s voice, influence and power, and to shape an alternative agenda. We need representation from all communities of interest around the table, to include our BME communities, LGBT and people with disabilities.

In order to bring about the changes required to tackle social injustice, poverty and exclusion, we need to facilitate a greater togetherness, and greater clarity of vision, uniting as a strong and growing family, behind an alternative to Tory policy and ideology, with a common understanding that we are all of equal value. We must recognise and embrace all the differences and complexities that exist within that family, they are our strength. And we must be outward facing, recognising our wider interdependence both nationally and internationally.

Time is of the essence. I will work with our future Mayor, our leaders across Manchester and Greater Manchester, our allies within the corridors of power, and the broader Labour and Cooperative movement to shape and influence the agenda, and deliver change. The people of Whalley Range, Fallowfield, Levenshulme, Longsight, Rusholme, and the two Gortons know best what local priorities are and how they can best be addressed so I’ll work with the people in my constituency, opening the door to fresh voices, ideas and opportunities. Everyone will be welcome at my table and I’ll actively reach out to include those currently underrepresented.

Understanding, cooperation and action will be my mantra to which I expect us all to hold each other to account every day.

I’m proud to stand alongside a diverse and capable group of passionate Labour activists all ready to dedicate their time to public office. Whoever is selected, I will stay by their side and I hope you will join me in applauding them, supporting them and holding them to account.

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