I grew up in Swindon in a typical family (my dad was an electrician and my mum spent most of her time looking after me and my brother). Politics was never a part of my upbringing – heated discussion was more likely to be about football than anything else!
I was the first person in my family to go to university and it was there where my political views were shaped. I moved to London in 1999 and I have lived in Lewisham, with my husband Martin, since 2002. I have worked as a parliamentary researcher, have run a national campaign for Clothes Aid and have been an unpaid Director of a number of companies, including the leading economic development company Greater London Enterprise.
In 2004 I became a Labour Councillor in one of Lewisham’s most deprived wards. I became acutely aware of the impact that politics has on the lives of our poorest citizens. From 2006-10, I was Lewisham’s full time Deputy Mayor and Cabinet Member for Regeneration. I saw first-hand how decisions taken by Government affect local public services. In May 2010 I was elected to Parliament, taking over from the previous Labour MP Bridget Prentice, and was re-elected at the May 2015 General Election.
In Parliament I have campaigned hard for my constituents, including to help save services at Lewisham Hospital when they were at threat under the Coalition Government. I served as Shadow Health Secretary from 2015-2016, taking the fight to the Conservatives on the imposition of an unfair junior doctor contract and opposing the abolition of student nurse bursaries.
I am passionate about what the Labour Party stands for – fairness, equality and concern for our neighbours here and overseas. And I am angry about the extreme, ideological approach the Conservatives are taking to Brexit. We should stay in the Single Market - putting the national economic interest front and centre in our negotiations with the EU.
Politics is letting people down at the moment and this needs to change. I will always speak my mind and I will continue to campaign hard on behalf of my constituents.