(c) Suria Photay

Suria is a trainee barrister who was born and raised in Wolverhampton, where she still resides with her family. She currently works for the Financial Ombudsman Service and was the Conservative Parliamentary Candidate for Wolverhampton South East.

What inspired you to enter politics?
SP: I started delivering leaflets for my brother, who is a Councillor, in my spare time. Then as I grew older, I began to have more of an interest in politics myself. I noticed job opportunities and the education of our children in Wolverhampton had continued to decline over several years. Even more so when I realised how difficult it was to find a job close to home. I wanted to change that and bring prosperity back to my home town. I realised that to help make a change I needed to be a voice for the people of Wolverhampton and I believe as a MP, I would be able to do that.

What has been your biggest achievement to date?
SP: To be selected as a candidate to represent the people of my hometown is without a doubt my biggest achievement. As a local girl I understand the frustrations of local people and I want to help them make Wolverhampton a better place. I appreciate that some people are disillusioned by politics and politicians but I am passionate about helping bring positive change to the city in which I was born and raised.

How has your experience in politics been so far?
SP: My experience has been largely positive thus far. I have met many wonderful new people across the country and I’ve been able to speak to them about issues and concerns that they have, both locally and nationally. I have also learned a lot from individuals and charities working hard in this country, and they inspire me to work hard for the British people.

What do you think would encourage more young girls and women to enter politics?
SP: I believe there should be more women involved in politics who can then be role models for young girls and women. If I can be an example and encourage other young women as a result, then I would consider that a success. I also feel parents should encourage their children to consider a career in politics. If you have a strong voice and a passion to make a change, get involved.

What have been some of your biggest challenges to overcome?
SP: A challenge that I have faced is one that I believe is felt by all those involved in politics; trying to engage our young voters. Many young people know what they do and don’t like in their everyday life, but many never vocalise their opinions or do anything about them. What I ask the younger generation to do is read about the different parties and what they stand for, see where your common beliefs are, and most importantly use your vote. Many believe that no one listens to them and they can’t make a change, but what I want to say is that every vote counts!

Many would not consider entering politics as a career. What would you say to those who think that?
SP: I understand that many people may not like, or understand politics, but I think politics is an opportunity to make a real difference. It is a part of our everyday lives and I would say do not dismiss the idea of a career in politics without considering it as an option. There are many ways to become involved and many councillors hold full time jobs in other sectors. I hope that our future generations who want to make a change and help people, will consider entering politics.

What has been the best bit of advice ever given to you?
SP: “Never give up” In life there are many times when you many not succeed in the first instance, you may not get that job you wanted or get into the university you wanted.  Looking back on times when I’ve been disappointed by not succeeding at the first go, it would have been easy for me to give up and take a different route. But I was told to follow my dreams and not to give up on them. I would pass that advice on to others. It is easy for others to say “don’t give up” and not appreciate how difficult the struggles you face are, but if you remain determined and keep working hard towards your end goal, then you can succeed.

What advice would you give to those who are considering a career in politics?
SP: I would say read up on the different policies of the parties and discover which party you share most common beliefs with. When you have decided which party you wish to be affiliated with, contact your local association. You can help by delivering leaflets, as I did when I was a teenager. You can also speak to local residents about issues that are important to them and think about how you can help. I believe you need to be passionate and want to make a difference because after all members of Parliament are selected by the British people for the British people.

If you were stranded on a desert island, what three items would you take?
SP: This is a difficult question for someone who carries so much in her handbag for the  ‘just in case’ scenarios! I would say a satellite phone but I’m sure that would defeat the purpose! So I would take a radio because I do enjoy listening to music, my best friend for company and a knife for practical reasons.


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