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I moved to South Shields 14 years ago to get married, and have a 12 year old son. My roots are here in the North East as my parents are from Newcastle and Berwick.

I work in education and have worked on holiday playschemes and in youth clubs including the Deaf children’s club in South Shields.

A campaigner for over 20 years, I’ve worked as a volunteer in Kenya, at War on Want, in Women in Black against war, Campaign Against the Arms Trade and the Stop the War Coalition. I was a leading campaigner to have rape recognised as a war crime.

I opposed Labour’s illegal wars and I’m very critical of the way that the UK’s arms industry continues to dictate domestic and foreign policy.

I oppose the Coalition Government’s austerity programme. The cuts are hitting the most vulnerable people hardest, including women, pensioners, the unemployed, the low paid, disabled people and carers.

In the North East thousands of jobs are being lost, as well as vital public services. We should be cutting tax avoidance and bankers’ bonuses, and saving billions by scrapping damaging Government projects such as the Trident nuclear weapons system and the road building programme.

The Government could be addressing both the economic and the environmental crises at the same time if they adopted the kind of policies the Green Party has set out in our Green New Deal. One of the best ways of sorting out the economy would be a huge investment in energy efficiency and renewable energy. It would create jobs, reduce fuel poverty and get our carbon emissions down.

I believe passionately that we can live in a radically different way, with human solidarity at its heart and with ecology, the way we live on this planet, at the front of our minds. So I have been a member of the Green Party for the last 8 years. I am also a member of the South of the Tyne Transition Town, focusing on getting more people growing their own food, at home, school, work, allotments and in the community.

I was secretary of the Save Our Seafront campaign which succeeded in stopping the selling off of the Gypsies Green stadium for a conference centre hotel development. The council then set up a working group for transforming it as a sporting facility.

I am the South Tyneside representative of the Tyne and Wear Public Transport Users Group, working to improve the quality and cost of public transport.

As a committed trade unionist in Unison, I am a steward at my school and local branch equality officer. Our branch is centrally involved in our local Public Service Alliance of trade unions and community groups defending our services against the cuts.

I stood as the Green Party parliamentary candidate for the South Shields constituency in 2010 and as MEP candidate for the North East in 2009.

email: shirley.ford@stgreens.org.uk

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