When I meet people or when i’m approached for help I do my best to empathise with people, I feel that in order to do your best you have to imagine that you are going through what the other person is. I use this in my day to day work and it helps, similarly I think its important to understand to an extent the working roles of others around you. Hence my reasons for shadowing those whose work I admire. Last week I spent a day with Kate Green MP to gain some more insight into her working day when she is in her constituency of Stretford and Urmston.
Kate’s reputation goes before her and her work ethic is very inspiring but she is an incredibly down to earth and approachable woman and I admire her direct approach in all she does.
We began our morning at media City and headed for the BBC studios where Kate was to do a Podcast on Gypsy Roma Travellers. She has really taken hold of the fight for more awareness of the bigotry and public hostility aimed at the Traveller community, noting that the general attitude is one that is deemed to be ‘the last acceptable form of racism’.
On the Podcast Kate discussed the all party group she chairs at Westminster and a 2 stage consultation undertaken by The Government on criminalised trespass and provision of legitimate stopping places, saying that to criminalise due to a lack of legitimate stopping places puts incredible pressures on our police service and further damages community relations between Travellers and those in the settled population.
There needs to be more proactively negotiated arrangement for travellers by Local Authorities more legitimate sites on suitable land with adequate facilities for families such as those Kate highlighted in Brighton, Surrey and Cheshire where Police are very pro-active in good practice against hate crime and racism. Better provision and understanding of GRT communities will alleviate the pressures on Policing and create more harmony and understanding within settled communities and travelling communities, also ensuring that healthcare and educational needs are planned for and supported well for the duration travellers are needing access. Sadly it seems that there is no political will to push for this as there would be little political kudos for the government and it risks settled population hostility should these changes be brought into force.
Kate really champions the GRT community and her work is hugely appreciated by them, her voice will keep their needs in focus where otherwise they would be further overlooked.
From the Podcast we headed back to Kate’s Stretford Office to look over her appointments for the day and to catch up on necessary correspondence before a meeting to facilitate a fundraising initiative in support of Syrian refugees.
I’ve noticed that many people Kate helps remain loyal to her, I often see people coming along to her street surgeries, election day activities and general door knocking to contribute to helping her. Sometimes this looks like time given to leaflet on her behalf, to support at a street stall or to bring food for those ‘Getting out the Vote’. It was good to see Abdul coming into Kate’s office in an official capacity to contribute to the fundraising meeting having previously met him when he brought food into the Public hall on election day, its almost a community in itself and Kate’s popularity holds that together
The fundraising meeting was very interesting, I love to see people share their skills and knowledge for a greater cause and Sean from Caritas, Abdul from Kramblers and Rose from Hands up did just that. In a nutshell they are combining their diverse skills to host a fundraising walk, bringing people of all faiths together to raise awareness of the true experiences of Syrian refugees as an initial starting point. This will then lead to a music concert combining music and singing from many cultures and faiths, Mosques and Churches with the plan very much being to grow and collaborate more going forward. It was such a positive meeting and again demonstrates how vital community links are with our MP and how her understanding of people can strengthen and equip for good causes and greater community cohesion and understanding.
We had a spare 10 minutes to eat our lunch before heading out with Cllr Tom Ross, Kate’s office manager, to Stretford library for the first of her surgeries. The weather was awful, it literally hadn’t stopped raining and the wind was blowing a gale but the library is close to Kate’s office and the walk is short.
The first of four appointments was already waiting for Kate and in a whirlwind hour she was approached with varied issues from fraud, Medical referral requests, housing issues and education, potentially all complicated and intense but with preparation done in advance and Kate’s precise manner in getting to the absolute centre of issues and needs, we left Stretford in the allocated time and headed off to Limelight in Old Trafford for her second and final surgery.
Again on arrival Kate’s 1st appointment was waiting so we were straight in and straight to work. Kate getting to the heart of the individual issue while Tom made copious notes and gathered the necessary evidence to be able to deal effectively with the concerns or requests. At times things may seem so overwhelming to those in need of Kate’s help and emotions can run high, but it was clear to see the difference her assistance can make between how a person enters the room to their body language on leaving. It carries enormous responsibility but Kate is honest about what she can and cannot do and will not give false hope, its very clear that her reputation goes before her and Kate makes it equally clear that she has restrictions and that she is not a miracle worker but that in all things where she can, she will intercede. I know first hand how reassuring it is to see Kate Green’s signature on her Westminster letter headed paper, it carries a great deal of weight with it and Kate’s office team do fantastic case work on behalf of her constituency.
Having heard of Child Maintenance demands, climate emergency, visa application and respite care surgery was done. Kate does these every other week and there is a steady stream of casework coming into the office throughout the week while Kate is in Parliament.
As I headed off into the gloomy late afternoon Stretford weather, I pondered all that I’d seen and experienced that day, no 2 days are ever the same for her and there is much demand and expectation on our MP. We really are incredibly fortunate to have such a passionate and dedicated woman fighting for her Constituency. I pick up a lot of information from the various public servants that I meet and Friday was no exception. Kate is a political role model for a lot of people yet I don’t think that she is aware of how admired she is as well as the huge respect she is held in. Its my pleasure to have spent time with her and to continue to learn from one of the best.