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What happens when you say yes to your community?

I’ve been a parish councillor in my village in Essex for six months now. Our primary function is to act on behalf of our residents, and provide a link between them and the district and county councils. We comment on, support or object to planning applications, maintain public spaces, give out grants to small local organisations, pay for special constables to police the village, manage the allotments, and dozens of other things. We meet for two hours on the first Tuesday of every month to vote on these issues and once a year we hold an Annual Parish Assembly, where residents can also vote on particular topics. This is how I ended up as a volunteer litter-picker, too – the resident who organises the group was there and reeled me in on the promise that my kids would love the bright yellow vest and dinosaur shaped picker, and I left full of plans to teach them about civic duty and caring for your environment. So far, they have not joined me.

At 35, I’m not the youngest councillor nor am I the only female. Other than ethnically (although in that respect we represent our overwhelmingly white village) it’s a surprisingly diverse mix of people. There is retired pillar of the community, Jean who, among other things, makes teas at the local am dram performances and always brings Werther’s Originals and lemon sherberts to our meetings. Steven and Jamie, like me, commute the 55 minutes by train to London every day and have young families. Emma works for Essex Wildlife Trust and always speaks up for the furry, feathered and scaled members of our village. Mike is retired now too, but was a nurse and had a varied career in healthcare working with adults and children with special educational needs. Many of us have worked in the public or charitable sector, but what really unites is a desire to positively impact the community we live in.

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Be Kind
July 2019

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