3 May 2017
Karen Wheller for Lewisham West & Penge
I joined the Green Party because I felt let down by parties in power which were not offering a different vision to that of the neoliberal economic consensus currently running this country, and wanted to be part of an organisation which was fighting to bring about a socialist and environmentalist inspired vision for the future.
As a volunteer zoo keeper based at Beaver Water World in Tatsfield, I have a keen interest in promoting animal welfare, and one of the aspects of my job which I enjoy the most is getting the chance to speak to and interact with a multitude of different people about our animals. I really feel as though I have made a difference to both the lives of thousands of animals, as well as for many people in my nearly ten years working at the zoo as a volunteer.
As a member of Bromley Cuts Concern, I have seen the impact of the cuts to local authority budgets as well as through social security reform, and have campaigned on many issues surrounding the cuts. I have also aided people by representing them as an advocate at the job centre, providing a buffer of sorts against the possibility of them being sanctioned.
I have also been affected personally by the issue of homelessness, and after that experience have wanted to help those who find themselves in a similar situation, especially with the problem of gentrification happening across Bromley and Lewisham boroughs, and the recent cuts which have been made to housing benefits, especially for younger people.
Since 2014 I have also been a member of the Bromley Trades Union Council, and I have taken part in many a picket line and demonstration alongside members, in defence of worker’s rights and jobs, protesting against plans to privatise Bromley libraries, in support of keeping guards on the trains, as well as visiting the migrant and refugee camp in Calais last year to donate and volunteer my time there as well.
The EU referendum campaign last year was one I found disappointing in many ways – neither the official remain or leave campaigns appeared to have a coherent argument for their case, and both sides seemed to be offering a fairly pessimistic outlook. I personally supported the efforts of the European Green and other blocs within the EU which were looking at trying to reform the EU into a federalist structure. I personally would campaign for at least a second referendum on the EU, especially once we know more about the details of the final deal that we would be offered, as I honestly feel now more is known about the ramifications of the result, a more informed choice could now be made.
Ultimately however, I would like the opportunity to take my battle for social and environmental justice for those of us left in the lurch by previous governments further.