What seems like many years ago now I was contacted by a brilliant campaign, Women Against State Pension Inequality (WASPI), who had just discovered that the government had changed their retirement age without warning them. The impact on their lives was profound and disturbing.
The most shocking thing is that so many women had no idea that this was happening to them. Imagine planning for retirement for many years and then suddenly finding out that the government have extended the age you can claim state pensions by years.
So I contacted every woman in our constituency that I could find, using the electoral register, to inform them and get as much information as I could. I organised a local petition which became the very first petition I formally presented to the House of Commons.
I held a public meeting for those affected and invited the Shadow Leader of the House of Lords to come and speak and listen. Because so many government defeats and policy changes – like the tax credit reversal for disabled people – have been achieved in the Lords, I really want to get them involved.
Working on this campaign has been an absolute joy, the meetings have been charged, passionate, and full of energy to move forwards. I loved being around so many people who were looking to the future with determination and acting with such dignity despite the humiliation being heaped on them by government.
During the 2017 General Election I signed the WASPI Pledge, promising my support both in the constituency and parliament until a solution is found. I fully intend to keep this promise. In order to keep this promise I have submitted petitions, asked written questions of the Government, met with constituents affected and chaired meetings with members of the House of Lords. I am determined that this gross injustice should not go unanswered and I shall continue to push the government into acting.