A press release brings the news:
Activate Collective, a UK fund supporting women from underrepresented groups to run for political office, today announces its first list of candidates.
Activate is funding 11 women running for five different parties in the spring local and mayoral elections across five parts of England – London, the Midlands, North East, North West, and Yorkshire and Humber. The list includes eight women of colour, one disabled woman and one care leaver. Seven of the 11 women are from low-income households or identify as working class.
The fund is supported by Emma Thompson, who donated £50,000 to kick-start the first round. Thompson said: “Our political system was built for men who – generally – had women to do everything else for them. Women are often the providers of that unpaid support rather than beneficiaries. Therefore women who wish to enter the political system need financial support – and women of colour, disabled women and women on low income need particular support to overcome multiple barriers to their participation.
“We need women from all backgrounds and experiences to get elected in order to make the system work for most people and not just a few. That’s why I wholeheartedly support Activate.”
Activate was founded in 2018 by Sophie Walker, founding leader of the Women’s Equality Party, and Vanessa Pine, former Special Adviser to the Secretary of State for Business and Equalities Minister. Activate directly addresses the lack of representation from women of colour, disabled women and working-class women in local and national government. By lowering financial barriers for these candidates to stand, campaign and win, Activate aims to renew politics by making it look like the national population.
There are two Liberal Democrats in the initial set of people supported:
April Preston – Liberal Democrat Council Candidate, Withington Ward, Manchester City Council
April Preston grew up in a council house in Stockport with her two deaf and disabled parents. At the age of 10 she went into care under the local authority and now uses these life-experiences to forward progressive policy and thinking within her party, focusing on the representation of those in challenging circumstances. As a young girl she witnessed the devastating outcomes which comes from the mishandling of disability, mental health, and is determined to stop this happening to the next generation. She seeks to reach out to and represent marginalised groups who often go disregarded in politics including care leavers, those with complex educational needs and LGBTQ+ people. In the 2019 local elections April came within 100 votes of being elected, and has since been reselected to stand again. April works for Tech Mums, a non-profit focusing on improving technology skills amongst working class and marginalised women.
“I rarely see people who reflect lives similar to my own. Too often we witness those in charge let down the very people they publicly profess to care about. This phenomenon isn’t chance. Working class people, people of colour, disabled and lgbtplus people rarely get to speak from their own expertise in the halls of power. By Activate offering me support, I can take up space most likely otherwise given to a white rich male, but more than that – I can offer insights alien to most decision-making processes.”
Nukey Proctor – Liberal Democrat Council Candidate, Sherbourne Ward, Coventry City Council
Nukey is committed to improving diversity and representation in all spheres of life. As a black woman successful in a relatively homogenous and typically male-dominated IT sector, she campaigns to get more women into STEM roles across the UK, and spends her spare time as a youth mentor passionately supporting young people to consider their options and think beyond stereotypes. Nukey is working on diversity and inclusion initiatives within her party. At the grassroots, Nukey leads local campaigns on the issues that affect residents directly- starting with securing commitment for resurfacing roads following raising safety issues around potholes, and is now working on a car theft campaign – as her neighbourhood has the highest incidence in a city with one of the highest rates in the country.
“Studies repeatedly show how improving representation leads to better outcomes. People are fed up with hearing the same dominant voices in politics. I feel honoured to work with the Activate Collective, as like them, I believe that politics would be better if it was made up of more people with diverse experiences. I’m excited to have their support to use my voice to challenge the vocal minority who wants to maintain the status quo.”
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