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How the FWN Mentoring Programme helped me realise my unspoken political ambitions.

Being the Prospective Parliamentary Candidate for Monmouth, County Councillor and Cabinet member as well as CEO of an award-winning Charity campaigning for equality for Women in Wales, the Fabian Women’s Network has always been behind me, beside me and in-front of me.

They have been behind me - watching my back and encouraging me to stand and giving me the tools to do so via the excellent mentoring programme sessions for example on public speaking, campaigning and how to get selected.

And they have been beside me – supporting, campaigning, picking up the pieces when I lost an election by 24 votes. They gave me the strength to carry on and stand again.

And, most importantly they have been in-front of me - those who have gone through the programme who are now MPs, Councillors, Council Leaders – they have all lit a path and thrown down the ladder to those that are still on our journey.

The strength in the programme is not only that you see the seats of power in the UK and realise you too can and should be a part of them - that your voice is both valuable and needed - but that after the programme a network of supporters and a huge knowledge bank is available to you.

I can safely say I would not have been able to fulfil many, if any, of my unspoken ambitions had I not gained a place on the 2014 mentoring programme. When I came on the programme I had just joined the local Labour party but was struggling to know what to do and how to make a mark. I was in a job which had suited well when my children were younger but it didn’t use the campaigning skills I knew I had. I was angry at feeling unrepresented in politics, scared of the way our politics of division and hatred was going.

The programme helped me articulate where I wanted to go, gave me the confidence to pursue that goal and helped me find my political voice and my political tribe, and I will be forever grateful.

Catherine Fookes is the PPC for Monmouth, a Councillor & Cabinet Member for Inequality, Vice Chair of Fabians Cymru and CEO of Women's Equality Network (WEN) Wales

Headshot of Catherine Fooks
Cllr Catherine Fooks is the PPC Monmouth, a Councillor & Cabinet Member for Inequality, Vice Chair of Fabians Cymru and CEO of Women's Equality Network (WEN) Wales

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