Councillor, Campaigner and Community Builder
I stood for office in Local Government after witnessing first-hand the effect living in poverty is having on families across the capital.
I have seen the impact of food insecurity through children with teeth so decayed they bled, who came back to school after the pandemic overweight and unfit as they'd had nowhere safe to play and no one to play with and school staff running after-school affordable food stalls which sell out in minutes.
In Croydon, children in our most deprived wards are nearly 3 times as likely to be obese by the time they are in reception than children in our least deprived wards- a key indicator of food insecurity. Research from the Institute for Health Equity shows child poverty has increased 22% in the UK as funding to children's centres, youth clubs and schools has decreased.
It was painful to see the Children's Centre in the school I taught at close, bringing an end to better parenting courses and informal drop-in spaces to manage day-to-day life. TAs were made redundant and asked to reapply for lower paid jobs in an effort to manage a shrinking school budget, fraying the social infrastructure which provided such precious pastoral care to vulnerable families.
I don't believe any of this is ok and it is why I want to see an expansion of our Free School Meal provision - and for local authorities across the UK to be properly supported in delivering this.
Education has been a key part of my own family's journey to secure housing and employment opportunities which transformed their lives. I was always told that I would be the first person in my family to go to University and was able to do realise this goal thanks to the stability and security I had at home and the excellent schools we have in south London. It is no surprise why a career in teaching is to me about social justice and equity and why I am so proud of the decade I spent as a teacher in London.
I know Labour is the party that understands the importance of early childhood and proper funding for family support services and schools and will continue to champion this vision as your Labour Councillor for Woodside.