Mum's Life

'Don't give up': mum shares inspiring story of going from unemployed to politician

Laura McWilliams is having a great week. 

The mum and care worker was elected as a local councillor last week, and a tweet she shared has been shared hundreds of times. 

Less than two years ago, Laura was unemployed and desperate, now she's using her experience as a force for change. 

"Just had a bit of a moment," she writes. "Less than 2 years ago I was coming down the lift in City Hall, crying after a Job Seekers meeting in the Job Centre because I felt so low. 

"Today I've just come down that same lift in City Hall with my Councillors lanyard. Never give up." 

 Speaking to Buzzfeed, Laura explained that she had moved to Lincoln in the East Midlands two years ago to be with her fiancé. They now have a  2 year old daughter called Arabella.

After relocating from her home in Milton Keyes, McWilliams originally had a job covering maternity leave in retail. But after retuning from her own maternity leave, she found herself out of a job. 

"I think I was quite naive in thinking about getting back to work again. I don’t think I realised how hard it would be – particularly when you’ve got a young daughter and you're working round child care," she said.

"I’ve always worked in retail as a manager. I’d managed large stores and got good experience, but suddenly I found I was applying for these jobs and I wasn't being asked for interviews – people weren't even getting back to me." 

This lead to mental health issues. 

"I had postnatal anxiety after I had my little girl and really struggled with my mental health and my own feelings about how good I was.

"I was applying for anything and everything and just wasn't getting any luck. I felt really down and almost like a failure, like I wasn't doing the right thing, that I was a burden.

"There's such a stigma around job-seekers and I think people have this perception of job-seekers – that’s why it was really important to me that I was never going to be ashamed of that and I was never going to hide that because every two weeks I was in there signing on and that’s the way it was."

Growing sick of local politicians not representing her needs, she decided to change it herself. 

"I felt quite motivated, getting annoyed with things in the community and seeing the same old faces when it comes to councillors," she said. "I thought, I need to put my money where my mouth is, so I got involved in the local Lincoln Labour party and helped out with campaigning.

"I’ve never shied away from how difficult things have been for my family and I have been a job-seeker and I have looked for work and money is tight.

"When the opportunity came up that there were some seats available for the city council elections, I first thought … particularly as a woman, you think of every reason why you’re not good enough rather than the reasons you are."

McWilliams now works night shifts in a care home as well as being a councillor during the day. She had no idea that her story would be inspiring for so many reasons. 

"I think it’s important that people aren't ashamed of where they come from. I never thought in a million years I'd inspire anyone and apparently, I did. Don't give up and don't ever forget who you are.

"When I knock on doors, and I’ve got people who say 'I don’t know anything about politics and no one represents me and everyone is the same' – that is not the case.

"If you care enough about where you live and the people around you, that’s really all that matters and all the experience you need."

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