Get to know Kashmire Hawker, the Labour and Co-operative Party candidate for Tettenhall Regis in Wolverhampton and Social Media Officer of West Midlands Young Fabians, as we continue our Meet the Candidate blog series.
Why are you standing to be a councillor in your local community?
I am running in Tettenhall Regis on May 5th, with there being a need for new freshful and youthful voices in our Council chamber and with there being a series of national crises hitting at once, the chance of pure experiences being expressed in the biggest possible way opens the door for a different type of representation.
As an Autistic and BAME 24-year-old; who recently got on to the Rental Ladder with my brother and in the aftermath of the passing of my older brother on Christmas Day, means life will be immensely tricky in many ways.
But to know I have an opportunity to serve in a city, with many people in the same position makes me hugely humbled and that would be a driving focus; not least for our young population, who are among some of the UK's most deprived areas.
Tell us about the ward you are standing in, such as the biggest concerns on the doorstep and what makes it unique.
I am running in the Tettenhall Regis ward which is the 2nd wealthiest and in fact 2nd bluest politically in Wolverhampton, and both stretches towards the edge of South Staffordshire and the City Centre. Regis is home to beautiful green spaces which need to be protected, as well being a place for major events - not least thanks to WV Leisure Aldersley, which has been host of the PDC Grand Slam of Darts since 2018, has a outstanding mix of thriving independent businesses and has a real mix of those with good incomes and who struggle to get by each day.
The clear issues are undoubtedly the need to protect Regis's green spaces, as well as continuing to ensure that everyone who needs support by the Council - who happened to spend £30 Million during the height of the Pandemic, can continue to be helped, within the difficulties of cost of living which are hitting all our residents and signposting those out of work/in low income households to the highly successful Wolves at Work programme.
My campaign slogan is Building A Regis For ALL and that is a mission that will be reflected in a wider action plan which I will develop over the coming weeks, knowing how diverse and how much possibility which Regis has, along with not forgetting there are plenty of who on low incomes who feel life is a struggle.
How did you find the selection process, and do you think there are ways it can be improved to better support young members?
As a result of the seat being the second safest Conservative area in the city, I was directly asked by the Tettenhall branch (which covers both the Tettenhall Regis and Tettenhall Wightwick ward, where I stood in 2021) to consider standing and despite some reluctance, I did accept the invitation. Of course, I would have preferred to win a Selection contest, however to be directly asked by the party to seek to serve - for a 2nd year running aged just 24 is a most marvellous honour.
On the general point of improving selections for young members with Wolverhampton having all-out elections in 2023 on new boundaries, it is incumbent on the party to point out younger members who they see fit as candidates and therefore encourage them to be as involved as much as possible in Labour activity.
Also, we need contests to not feel daunting and for experienced members to support younger folk like myself; particularly with me running in the worst areas politically for 2 years, which I do admit has felt somewhat disheartening but will leave me in a good place to stand in future, especially for May next year.
With 60 candidates for Wolverhampton Labour to select next year, new talent is absolutely vital for the heart and soul of our democracy and living in the youngest region in Europe, we need to seize the opportunity.
What do you hope to bring from your experiences within the Young Fabians into local government?
I've only recently got myself stuck into the work of Young Fabians, but I am delighted to form part of a batch of people, whose decency, generosity and progressive mindset has the ideas to take places forward. I am the new Social Media Officer for West Midlands Young Fabians and hugely look forward to sharing the activity of us over the coming months.
I do feel positive though, with myself being the current Co-Chair of the West Midlands Young Combined Authority; a platform for 16-25-year-olds across the region, to both challenge those in power and ensure through cooperation, opportunity is given to the young people of WM.
That experience of being engaged in Local Government will therefore be critical in such an office like Councillor and I am sure many in Regis and across Wolverhampton, would be encouraged that someone like me has been shouting about the views of my generation, on such a substantial level for a number of years.
What would be your advice to Young Fabians who are considering standing for local government?
I am of the view that if you feel that you have a suitable opportunity awaiting you, that you should certainly seek to take it.
Knowing the role which Local Government and Local Authorities have to play in people's day-to-day business, the chance to play such a part; not least with the support, guidance and machinery you get and the knowledge that such decisions could change a life for the better, should be a strong enough pull!
I know that Tettenhall Regis; even with a fairly wealthy population, has many people who just feel afraid of having enough money at the end of the month and who feel that those in power don't listen to their voices. That cannot go on in 21st century Britain and being their champion and ensuring a fair shot for everyone, would be an honour beyond compare.
How can YF members help your campaign between now and May?
How can YF members help your campaign between now and May?
Finally, there are sessions planned and the details of which are on the 2 social media channels and I'd be thrilled, particularly if I can get a major Dialogue session into the diary! Let me know if you'd wish to be involved, as national support would be terrific.
If you are a Young Fabian standing in the May local elections, please email our Blog Editor Jimmy at [email protected] if you’d be interested in being featured here on the blog.