Noleen Hayes tells us about her journey to becoming a Candidate in local elections
"I was born into the Birmingham Irish community to parents from Fermanagh and Limerick who, like millions before them, left Ireland to find work overseas. I feel proud of this heritage and proud to have been part of the Irish diaspora," explained Noleen. "My long-term partner and I, along with our two small boys, moved home to my mother’s home county, where I had spent a great deal of time during my childhood and throughout my adult life, over ten years ago. Our youngest child, a daughter, was born here in Fermanagh.
My local community have been incredibly welcoming to me and my family and this allowed me to feel confident in becoming an active member of the community. I have co-managed our local cross-community toddler group and I am a committee member of the Maguiresbridge Village and Rural Development Association, who organise local events and consult on, and raise, local issues.
I joined The Next Chapter because I believe it gives ordinary women a chance to gain confidence and knowledge of how to become involved with community, public and political life.
Women are under-represented at every level of civic, community, business and political life. Anything that encourages women to participate and make their voices heard is a positive step towards equality.
I have always had a keen interest in politics and am currently studying for a degree in History and Politics. As such, I was delighted and honoured to have been selected by Sinn Féin to be a candidate in the 2019 Fermanagh and Omagh District Council elections, as one of four candidates representing Erne East.
The Next Chapter has helped me gain confidence in my own abilities. It has provided me with knowledge and training in the skills that will ensure that I would be a strong representative for the people of Erne East."
Thank you for taking the time to tell us your story Noleen.
If you are a Next Chapter participant and would like to share your story please contact Liz at firstname.lastname@example.org