Tag Archives: isabelle parasram

Jo Swinson’s message for Diwali

Here’s Jo Swinson’s message for Diwali:

 

Today, we join Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist and Jain communities to celebrate Diwali.

Across the country, streets will come alive with dazzling light displays and homes will be adorned with extravagant decorations, all to mark the festival of lights.

As families and loved ones gather to celebrate the triumph of good over evil and light over darkness, let us all hold on to Diwali’s central message of joy, community and new beginnings. Our country’s strength lies in the rich diversity of its people and it is our duty to create an environment where people of all faiths, beliefs and worldviews are welcomed and embraced.

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Why we need #worldmentalhealthday

“I’ve got the headache from hell.”

“I’m full of the cold”

“I feel incredibly anxious today”

“My stomach is killing me.”

One of these is not like the others.

We are generally pretty comfortable about sharing when we’re feeling physically unwell, but not so if we are feeling mentally unwell.

I’m not going to lie, I have found these last few months really difficult. I’ve often felt overwhelmed and anxious. In fact, earlier in the Summer, I thought my mental health was going to collapse completely.

The last thing I was expecting from my campaigning trip to Brecon and Radnorshire was to come back feeling restored, refreshed and energised.

I’m not better, though. More days than not, I feel anxious.

And just like many people with physical ill health, I go to work and edit this site and go about my daily life.

The Winter months are generally more difficult than the Summer ones. A fall on ice quarter of a century ago has cast a very long shadow. Going outside when it’s snowy and icy is so exhausting that I’m often fit for nothing by the time I get where I’m going. I have to get used to operating on empty and living in a near permanent state of high anxiety.

And when people diminish what that is like, and laugh about it, it makes life so much more difficult. When people tell you to pull yourself together, they have absolutely no idea how much you are already doing that.

I also think that it is getting easier to talk about things like Anxiety and Depression. Try and say you are suffering from Psychosis and you will often realise very quickly that stigma is thriving.

So that’s my take on World Mental Health Day. This year’s theme is suicide prevention, in particular the acronym WAIT, as Christine Jardine describes:

Alex Cole-Hamilton mentions the importance of listening:

Jo talked of the importance of being able to talk openly:

Jane Dodds has long championed measures to end loneliness and social isolation:

Luisa Porritt and Layla Moran shared their struggles with Anxiety and Depression:

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Isabelle Parasram writes….Celebrating Windrush Day

As a child of the Windrush generation, Windrush Day is hugely important to me. I’m so glad that we, as a society, are marking it.

The term ‘the Windrush Generation’ stems from the arrival, on June 22, 1948, of the ship The Empire Windrush at Tilbury Docks, just east of London, bringing with it the first immigrants from the Caribbean.

It denotes the large-scale influx of Caribbean immigrants during the years that followed.There’s been a lot of Press about the terrible treatment of people who came here from the Caribbean in the late 1940s and onwards, who now find that their very official existence has been denied.There’s also much discussion about the poor treatment of those Caribbean immigrants upon their arrival in the UK to date.

But there are also some positive stories and memories mixed in with those experiences.

I’ve recorded an 8-minute audio interview with someone who came to this country in 1962. She shared with me some of her memories and they were both good and bad. You can listen to the interview here via Soundcloud:

The memories shared in the interview are such as these:

I came to the UK after a one month journey from Trinidad by ship with my young stepson and my new baby boy. When we arrived it was the coldest winter they’d had in a long time and we only had summer clothes.

I remember having no furniture, no heating, no washing machine, no fridge, no winter clothes. We had to try to stay warm in one roomusing a paraffin burner. Then, on Christmas Day, someone gave us a bed for my stepson. I was so happy!

It was hard to find a job because no black people were allowed. The British people didn’t want immigrants –“…no black people”, they said.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged | 5 Comments

Eradicating race inequality

At Conference last weekend, my maiden speech as Vice President was in support of a Motion on a race equality policy paper: Eradicating Race Inequality produced by Merlene Emerson, Baroness Hussein-Ece and the Race Equality – Policy Working Group. 

I talked about my experience, as a young barrister, of seeking to comfort a Caribbean grandma who couldn’t bear to watch her young, black grandson being sentenced for possession of a knife. 

A knife he’d felt forced to carry to protect himself from gangs. 

I assured her then that her grandson would be treated fairly, but had no idea that my words were as hollow then as they would be if I said them now, some twenty years later. 

The statistics are shocking:

  • BaME people are the most likely in our society to become a victim of crime or to fear becoming a victim* (leading to disproportionate numbers of BaME people feeling forced to carry a knife for protection)
  • rates of prosecution and sentencing for black people are three times higher than for white people **

It is clear that our criminal justice system, like politics, is broken.

I am glad that the Motion was passed and that there was such overwhelming support for it. It provides an excellent blueprint for our policy work in this area going forward. 

Registered supporters’ scheme

I later had the chance to speak in support of a registered supporters’ scheme. 

I acknowledge that there were many aspects of the Motion that were controversial and I will leave it to those better qualified to address those particular points. 

My viewpoint was in relation to attracting more BaME voters, members and candidates to our Party.

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Isabelle Parasram elected as Lib Dems’ first Vice President BAME

Barrister Isabelle Parasram has been elected by the Federal Board as the party’s first Vice President BAME.

I was delighted by this result because I voted for her and encouraged others to do so as I had been really impressed by her clear vision for the role. She talked a lot of sense about how to change the party’s culture. I’ve seen that her previous work, the report into dealing with complaints of sexual impropriety,  has been thorough, clear and fair.

In an email to members, Miranda Roberts, Chair of the Federal People Development Committee, welcomed Isabelle’s appointment.

At our Spring Conference over the weekend, Party President Sal Brinton announced that Isabelle Parasram has been elected as our new Vice President BaME.

This position has been created to encourage more BaME representation and participation across the party.

I am delighted that Isabelle is taking on this new role. Her election is an exciting and important step towards building a more inclusive and diverse party.

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Publication of Report on Sexual Impropriety Complaints Handling – an update from Special Investigation Counsel, Isabelle Parasram

In November 2017, I was appointed by the Federal Board of the Liberal Democrats as Special Investigation Counsel to conduct an investigation and produce a Report on the handling of sexual impropriety complaints within the Party.

I am pleased that, after a period of being embargoed, the report has now been published and you can access it here.

My appointment was one of a number of steps taken by the Federal Board in response to concerns expressed by members of the party towards the end of last year. These concerns related to allegations of sexual impropriety that were, at that time, …

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Isabelle Parasram’s report into sexual impropriety complaints handling published

Last year, the Federal Board asked barrister Isabelle Parasram to produce a report on how companies involving sexual sexual impropriety in the party should be handled. Should the party inform the Police? What about anonymity of complainants?

This happened because concern had been expressed about how some such complaints had been handled.

The report has now been published. In a post on the members’ section of the party website, Isabelle Parasram said:

As the Head of Greycoat Law (a barristers’ chambers) I have over two decades of legal and policy experience covering the various strands of law impacting this subject.  I am also a Party member, holding roles within the Party as Vice Chair of Liberal Democrat Women, Vice Chair of the London Region, Regional Spokesperson on Brexit, Prospective Parlimentary Candidate and other similar positions.  I understand that these were some of the reasons why I was approached.

My investigation and eventual Report addressed the following key areas (amongst many others that arose out of what I discovered during the course of my investigation):

  1. support in the process for complainants;
  2. anonymity for complainants;
  3. reporting serious crimes to the police;
  4. suspension of members following serious allegations and
  1. how the Party can support members appropriately who are accused of serious allegations.

It is important to note that my focus was entirely on the applicable processes and were not and were never intended to be an additional investigation into the allegations themselves.

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