Report back from Chipping Barnet Women’s Afternoon

Chipping Barnet Labour Women met on the afternoon of 7 October 2017 at Friern Barnet Library, which is a really nice welcoming space. The afternoon was flexible, allowing women to come at any time between 1.30 and 4.30 pm. There were 14 women at the meeting and I hope this number will grow. One woman brought her two children who happily played in the library space nearby. Tea, coffee, juice and biscuits were provided and one of our members brought homemade cakes and savoury scones! Very nice.

Topics were wide-ranging and I have mentioned just a few of them here.  They included ideas to reduce the school run traffic, which then turned into a discussion about the Ark academy proposal, which quite a number of women didn’t know about. Another local issue related to lack of affordable childcare in Barnet compared to some other boroughs; most providers are private and only offer 2 out of 6 weeks in the summer holiday. Since feeding this back to the Chipping Barnet CLP executive it was thought that this was an issue for targeted campaigning.

Other issues discussed included the need for more affordable exercise groups for women generally, but more specifically for women and men of 50 plus. Ideas for our Labour street stalls included a themed approach from November, for example, issues about the NHS, housing in Barnet, issues for local businesses. It was also felt that more women need to put themselves forward as Labour council candidates and we need to find ways of encouraging this. Libraries are an issue for everyone in Barnet but women with young children talked about how this had impacted on early learning and whereas children benefited previously from activities such as ‘rhyme time’ these are now being reduced as libraries close.

One young member of the group talked about encouraging Labour Societies in schools and holding mock elections to get young people involved in politics. She also mentioned that the Labour Party should be expanding their payment methods as there is a difficulty for young people who do not have a regular income paying via standing orders or PayPal.

Women at the meeting felt that they were more likely to attend all members meetings if we could move the venue around to different parts of the constituency and possibly alternate the timings between a weekday evening and a Saturday afternoon. This particularly affected women who didn’t drive or who had caring responsibilities for either children or disabled adults. All welcomed the idea of a CLP women’s group who could meet regularly and more flexibly and have their ideas fed back. I am happy to do this as Women’s Officer and see this as an evolving role based on the needs of women members,

Linda Benjamin, Chipping Barnet CLP Women’s Officer, 25 Oct. 17