Back in 2008 I was a young Student Campaigner. As Disabled Students’ officer at the University of Derby Students’ Union I created the H campaign. The premise behind the H campaign was actually inspired by Red Dwarf and the Hologram that is Arnold J Rimmer.

Contrary to popular belief the H was not named after myself, it was in fact a H standing for Hidden. The idea was that nobody actually knows who is Disabled. Therefore people wore badges to signify that they might have a hidden disability.

One strand of the H campaign was actually Stress; depression and Mental health.

This summer, I witnessed a truly inspiring display of strength from someone who I admire a great deal. Sarah Taylor; England’s World Cup winning wicket keeper/Batsman took a year out of the sport due to anxiety and returned to Cricket for the World Cup in England.

She showed great strength of character and put on some amazing performances this summer and for me is possibly the best wicket keeper in the world in Men’s and Women’s Cricket.

Now I have talked before about my own experiences with mental health. I was bullied for many years at school and at work. Bizarrely; Politics is my safe space. Politics is an unforgiving world but it’s indiscriminate in that it’s unforgiving for everybody.

I suffered a bit after my first election defeat but I am big enough and well travelled enough to understand that Politics is a fickle world and that I would bounce back.

The darkest point in my life was being unemployed. I had four years of unemployment and serious issues with self esteem and confidence issues.

On world Mental Health day, I am proud to say that I have got through it and would encourage anyone who is going through mental health issues to talk to someone.

The magical world of Local Government 

I saw a news piece on the local news recently focusing on why young people don’t get into politics.

A socialist activist was telling a tale of online abuse and gendered threats. The truth is that most young people have been apathised by unionist militancy in the form of biased teachers.

I often tell a story of my favourite teacher from school; now don’t get me wrong Jez was a unionist but he knew that schools were about the children. He taught me the virtues of hard work; determination and meritocracy. The hard unionist IT teacher from down town red Bradford instilled in me the strong conservative values that I carry now.

So my message begins with saying that politics affects us all and that every vote matters. 

I have often had political conversations with children or emerging adolescents and got a lot of sense from them. The challenge is getting them to believe in politics without sensationalist radicalism or antiestablishment politics of opposition.

I have developed a nack of teaching politics in the 4th person. I will give the facts rather than my opinion.

I’m now two years into my council term and I have had the pleasure of receiving school children into the council chamber and visiting schools. I have to say that this a revolutionary way of engaging future generations. The first interaction that I had with politicians was in 2005 when the parliamentary candidates visited our sixth form college.

Now local government is hard work. But it’s the most rewarding experience of my life. I truly believe we should use the magic of local government to engage future voters.

Top sights in the UK

So there was a news item last week listing the top 20 views in the U.K. Now they were pretty special but I thought I’d come up with 10 of my own:

  1. Westminster Bridge; specifically the Elizabeth Tower from Westminster Bridge.
  2. The Seven Estuary.
  3. Derbyshire from the descent into Ashbourne.
  4. The Dome; Buxton.
  5. The view from Erewash Museum.
  6. The media centre, Lords.
  7. The London eye.
  8. Buckingham Palace.
  9. Queens Park, Chesterfield.
  10. Arkwright Mills, Cromford.

My Classical Music Top 10

I dared to criticise the music at work the other day. I have to say that’s the one thing I miss about working in an office, I used to get in before anyone else and have 30 minutes of quality music before the modern mainstream pop music of GEM 106 came on.

So I started to educate my colleagues a little bit. I have decided to put this post together with my personal selection.

  1. The Planets Suite; Jupiter: the Bringer of Jollity – Gustav Holst.
  2. Cello Concerto in E Minor – Sir Edward Elgar.
  3. Nimrod; Enigma Variations l – Sir Edward Elgar.
  4. Syrinx – Claude Debussy.
  5. Piano Concerto No 5 – Beethoven.
  6. Promenade – Gershwin.
  7. Rackwick Bay – Phamie Gow.
  8. Symphony No 9 – Dvorak.
  9. Ride of the Valkeries – Wagner.
  10. La Quattro Stagione – Vivaldi.

Why Andy Street embodies True Conservative Values.

As the former CEO and Managing Director of John Lewis, Andy Street should be the sworn enemy to an employee and Shareholder at Marks and Spencer. No matter how many sides we see M&S from, the Management have always seen the major competitors as being John Lewis.

Andy Street started his graduate life aiming to be a social worker; after being turned down by Birmingham City Council and then being turned down by the Marks and Spencer training scheme he headed for John Lewis. 

He has taken on roles in store; head office and in the manufacturing units; he has been local managing director in two different areas, he has been director of personnel and finally he was CEO and Managing Director for 9 years.

He steered the business through choppy waters to success during a worldwide recession.

He has headed up the Birmingham Local Enterprise Partnership and been a figure head for business in the city and in the region.

What makes Andy stand out is his passion for local business. He is a fantastic ambassador for aspiration and for climbing the ladder. 

I’ve often reiterated my Conservative beliefs of aspiration; hard work; meritocracy; equality of opportunity; low taxes and free trade.

Andy Street is an inspiration to all aspiring entrepreneurs and all local politicians. He fully embodies the Conservative values that I embrace and believe in.

For me he has proven that if you truly want something bad enough and you put your mind to something, anything is achievable.

Andy has gone from shop floor to boardroom in a major British institution, albeit it a great rival of the company that I work for. 

I fully support Andy and he is a great ambassador for our party. He will make a great Mayor for the West Midlands.

How dyspraxia brings out mental health issues.

I’ve had dyspraxia from birth but was only diagnosed aged 9.

Dyspraxia manifests itself in many different ways but I want to focus on the mental health side as today is #WorldMentalHealthDay

Mental Health is still a bit of a taboo like sex; politics and religion, but just like those three topics, it needs talking about and it needs addressing.

It is important to note that mental health issues are more a reaction than a symptom of Dyspraxia. But I have a tendency to be stressed; depressed or anxious about things; I have difficulty sleeping from time to time; I am prone to serious bouts of low self esteem; and I have a few phobias, although I’m training myself out of those gradually. 

A prime example of anxiety occurs in my day job. Apart from being a Councillor and a school governor, my days are spent as a Team Coordinator in a large warehouse. Now I have run shifts of 30 people and reported to the duty senior leader [four pay grades above me] throughout a shift, no problem. But [I have had bad experiences with handing over to certain people] from 20:45 onwards I get terribly anxious wondering who I’m having to hand over to. This has made me hate PM shifts at work.

I hear you asking the question, how can A borough councillor with a majority of nearly 100 have low self esteem?  The truth is that I will always be trying to prove myself. When I have managers criticising what I have done and what I’m handing over, I feel useless and therefore I get low self esteem which leads to anxiety and stress and loss of sleep, where most people would walk out at 22:00 and shrug it off. 

I over think and over plan. I so determined to succeed, which is a trait of being dyspraxia, that that slightest set back becomes personal. 

There are many positives to anyone with Dyspraxia though. 

  • Determination 
  • Entrepreneurship and think outside of the box 
  • Hard work
  • Compassion 
  • Good general knowledge 
  • Very methodical 
  • Very task driven
  • Good long term memories 
  • Great problem solving skills
  • Very logical
  • Very creative and will usually take a high interest in the arts: music, painting, photography etc.

I think it’s important to talk about mental health issues. But have never opened up about how my Dyspraxia has brought on mental health issues.

Bullies made me who I am now!…

My name is Cllr Richard Harris and I have been bullied.

Yup, that’s right, from the age of 9-16 I was bullied every single day of my school life.

When I started work, I thought I’d escaped, I thought I’d found somewhere that I was accepted and for four years I was. For the last year that I was at McDonalds, I suffered it there too. 

Now being bullied has done two things to me, it made me very wary of people and it wasn’t until my latter student years that I began to trust people and make friends, but it made me turn to public service. 

Instead of being bitter about my experiences I use them to help other people. I campaign to end bullying and I work with the community to improve lives. 

I blogged earlier about one cause of anxiety and sleep loss. This is the other. 

Today, On world mental health day, my message is this: the countless bullies that I suffered in my formative years, at Cloudside; Friesland and at work made me the strong and resilient character that I am today. Bullies can cause all sorts of personal issues. Don’t let them. Talk to someone!