How to be a Young Councillor – Farah Hussain

This is the fourth in our series where we’ve been chatting to young Labour councillors around the UK. Local councillor applications have now closed in Havering – you might have applied this time round, or would like to apply in future years! If you would like to find out about what campaigning to be a Labour party councillor is like or what it’s like sitting on a local council, follow our series for interviews with young people already in the job.

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Hello! Tell us a bit about yourself…

I am Farah Hussain, Councillor for Valentines Ward in Redbridge and Cabinet Member for Housing. I am responsible for the Council’s homelessness services, rough sleeping and social housing.

I also work part-time for a Labour and Co-operative MP in Westminster.

 

When and why did you decide you wanted to be a councillor?

I decided to be a councillor after being a member of the Labour Party for a couple of years. I saw a lack of diversity on my local council and believed that I had the skills and experience to represent my community.

 

When and where did you stand to be a councillor?

I stood in the 2014 local elections in Valentines Ward, Redbridge.

 

Did you address specific issues when campaigning in the ward?

We had a Borough-wide campaign with manifesto pledges for all communities. The manifesto sought to bring some pride and ambition back to Redbridge after years of Tory administration.

 

How much time did you have to set aside for campaigning? What did you enjoy the most on the campaign trail?

I campaigned about once a week for a year before the election. This then increased to every other day and weekends in the short-campaign. I enjoyed working as a team with my colleagues and local activists. Speaking to residents was really enjoyable, it is great to listen to their concerns and ideas on how we can improve our local services.

 

When elected, how many labour councillors do you work with in your labour group on the council?

We have a a Labour Group of 36 councillors, and a Cabinet of 9 including the Leader.

 

Do you sit on any committees within the council?

I attend Cabinet meetings and sit on the Council’s Corporate Parenting Panel.

 

How often do you attend council meetings?

Including all informal meetings, I attend meetings around twice a week.

 

What is your favourite thing about being a councillor?

I love being able to make a change to people’s lives. Over the past year I have opened two new council housing blocks. Meeting the new tenants, hearing how glad they are to have a decent affordable place to live. It is a fantastic feeling being able to do that for fellow residents.

 

What words of encouragement would you have for young people thinking about standing? Why do you think it is important?

I could encourage them to do it. We need young people to get involved so a diverse range of opinions and experience can be used in the decision-making process. It can be daunting to stand against people much older than you but it is worth remembering that everybody’s experiences are valid and that young people offer a point of view others may not have.

Thanks for taking the time to talk to us Farah!
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