BAME women and Democracy

BAME Women’s Democracy Event 12th October 2017




The aim of BAME Women’s Democracy event is to encourage BAME communities to participate in local policy decisions. Democracy is everyone’s right, their contribution can change lives.

 Quotes About Democracy.  Democracy is a form of government in which people have the say in choosing the government or leader of their choice.  In other words, in a democracy, power lies in the hand of people unlike autocracy or dictatorship, where a single person usurps all the power and the rules over the entire nation.

 Discussion:  Current issues facing BAME women

 This is the first time Labour has organised a BAME women’s event for Democracy Week 2017.  The purpose of this event is to find a way to reach out to women from BAME communities and get them involved at local level.

 We discussed how democracy changes lives that are influenced by government.

We all know decisions made nationally can affect local issues therefore, wider community engagement and input is required if they want to be heard.  We also said how they can have influence over decisions that can better the lives of many.

 We also discussed the representation on the day maybe low because of when the meeting is being held.  This is something we can look at.

 We agreed we should hold another similar event same time next year and possibly have it around a theme and speakers, visit full council session and attend forum meetings to get an understanding of how local council performs, scrutinise and see how their local councillors represent their constituents. 


The Women were set an exercise, to write down their experiences of accessing housing and health in Northampton.  They came up with good points and want their contribution to be followed up on.

Council Chamber debate:

We went to the Council Chamber for a debate and split the group in two and selected a Mayor. The debate was around flexibility for working mums to work from 9-2pm

 Group 1 – Employees want their employer to give them flexibility and allow them to work 9-2pm to allow them to drop and pick up their children from school.

Group 2 - Employer argued employee accepts the job with the set hours, they cannot offer flexibility because it would affect their productivity and need people to work full time.  There were really good arguments for and against.

Health notes:

Time awaited to see specialist

GP appointments

Answer is always pain killer

Not no thorough checks

No referrals

Medication to expensive

Cost of medication – Vitamin D

Mental health issues

Free and regular health checks

Elderly in could be checked at home and others in other locations

Health service – joined up approach

Translation service for medical appointment – language terminology

Unavailable appointments

GP – not enough time

Long waiting time A&E

Dentist term time appointment

Mental health – not enough service available (poor service)

Respecting patients

Poor medication

8am to make GP appointment clash to school runs

Phone line is always engaged

The online system does not work, hard to use

Dentists becoming increasingly privatised

Not enough dentist appointment outside school time

Lots of people coming to Northampton from London , esp due to high cost of living and low quality of living in London

Lot of people from Eastern Europe

Long wait at A&E and operations


Housing notes:

  • Over crowded
  • 2 bedroom tax
  • Poor quality – council housing/association
  • Need Teenage Housing  - 18yrs over
  • Living room turned into bedroom
  • Inadequate housing
  • Homeless – expectations not met
  • Facilities available for disabled people
  • Keeping families together not separating them
  • Rent increasing/council tax
  • Benefit cap – universal credit which will affect low income families
  • Private rented people also overcrowded and low income
  • Not all landlords will accept housing benefit.  Not everyone can afford deposit
  • Overcrowding
  • Homelessness
  • Because of capping and bureaucracy of housing benefit, council tax
  • Big gap in housing benefit due to delay in filling in paperwork
  • Lack of affordable social housing, but lot of private accommodation.
  • Need for safe hostels
  • Lack of temporary accommodation in npton close to work and school
  •  New homes needed for  more rooms for big family and accommodations for young single people to larger bedroom.
  • Rents increasing people moving into Northamptonshire
  • Quality of new housing needs to be long lasting not cheap or breakable
  • Bedroom tax – against
  • Social workers would be better if they help the homeless parent as well as child
  • Homeless shelter limited spaces
  • Long process – complicated language issues with forms – lack of clear guidance
  • Waiting
  • Empty properties
  • Facilities in certain areas – school/transport
  • Unfair housing – benefit fraud
  • Condition of housing eg damp etc
  • Pensioners – benefits when renting /owners
  • BAME housing – specialist support required
  • University students – rents high - conditions





The women that attended found the event informative and important. They were pleased they attended.  There was much discussion why they have not until now they came along to such event. They would like to see follow up session next year.   The ladies are keen to make a contribution and want to learn more about democracy and want to come along to meetings which will be a huge step for them..

  • To come along to next full council meeting on Monday 11th December at the Guildhall.  Arrive by 6.15pm to get seated
  • Attend next Democracy event 2018
  • Visit to Parliament and meet with BAME MPs
  • Complete questionnaire

Thanked the Women for their contribution.



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