We are surrounded by a diverse range of people. People in our community integrate so well that you can’t tell who is from where, and anyone could be from any background. That is what makes Portishead special. Regardless of our background, we are embraced as part of a strong sense of community, and that is how it should be. But, for many reasons, that is not always the case.
As a British Sign Language user, I know how it feels to struggle to fit into an established community. I have faced barriers with access to services, participation in social gatherings, and more, leaving me feeling excluded for being different. I can fully empathise with anyone who has experienced similar struggles, who feel as if they are not on par with others who can easily fit in within a community.
I know the importance of inclusivity, and we must ensure that Portishead is an inclusive town, where we embrace each other regardless of our backgrounds. We can do this by developing a partnership with local community groups and organisations, so that we champion different diversities and backgrounds, and develop a strong community that meets everyone’s needs.
Portishead is fortunate to have a wide range of community groups such as Portishead Youth Centre, Portishead Scouts, Army Cadet Force, Parent & Toddler Group, Portishead and Friends LGBTQ, Mental Health Awareness Portishead, Portishead Churches Together, Wild Portishead, and many others. Each one is an important part of our town. Our community groups know best how to improve inclusivity in Portishead, and they must be at the heart of our decision-making.
As a councillor, I will engage with residents and local community groups to find out how the council can support them. I will ensure that they have a voice in Portishead and are listened to about issues affecting them, for example with the desperately needed skatepark project for young people, which has my full support. Every resident in Portishead deserves to be heard, and that is crucial in an inclusive town.
I will fight for the council to listen to and work with the residents when tackling ongoing challenges, especially as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. Efforts to address areas such as unemployment, financial hardship, youth, physical and mental health, and education must be driven by our communities. Currently, the cladding scandal is an issue for residents in Portishead East, who are left feeling excluded and unsupported. The affected residents deserve ongoing support from the council, and they will have my support too.
As your councillor, I will work with the council and local organisations such as Citizens Advice, Jobcentre, and local support groups to make Portishead an inclusive place for all.