NATASHA Shah dreams of the sort of society where everybody – young, old, of any faith, any race, any background, any ability – can all live together happily and help bring out the best in each other.
The 32-year-old South Shore mum is standing as the first Muslim woman candidate in Blackpool, hoping to be elected to represent Waterloo ward.
Mrs Shah, mum to her three children and step-mum to her husband Syed’s children from a previous marriage, wants to stand for all people – regardless of faith, nationality or age.
The Labour candidate said: “I thought it would be good to have someone standing who does understand and can represent the Muslim faith and Asian women, but also represent everybody. I want to try to foster a real sense of local community.
“I think in the Asian community, we probably still have that and it’s so important. If you go back many years, it was like that in England. But these days, people don’t seem to bother with their neighbours.
“You sometimes hear those terrible stories in the news of people who have died and nobody has noticed for weeks.
“I think that’s sad. I was born in Oldham, then moved to Fleetwood when I was about seven, and then moved to Blackpool 12 years ago, and I love Blackpool and I love the community in our area.
“I come from a background where there is a great belief in looking after your elders. We can learn so much from the older generation. But at the same time we need to look after the younger generation and listen to their views, as they are the future generation.
“It doesn’t matter what background people are from, what religion, it’s about tolerance, patience, love and understanding.”
Mrs Shah, as an Asian mum, hopes to dispel some of the myths and misguided beliefs around Asian women.
“Yes, I am an Asian woman and yes, I wear a headscarf, but I hope to show Asian women are not repressed and we are empowered.
“I’m a busy mum, I look after seven children, I run a parent and toddler group, just opened a mosque and community centre – which runs courses for non-English speakers, and groups doing activities like football, and I also run an internet TV station.”
Mrs Shah, a former Fleetwood High School pupil, runs the internet TV station www.ghousia.tv – which covers issues important to the local community.
She said: “We involve disabled children to give them chance to get experience making and producing their own TV shows, as well as older people. We feature discussions of topics important to them.
“I feel it’s important to get in to care homes and work with older people who are less mobile and perhaps can’t get out, who perhaps don’t have much to keep them occupied. We must look after our older people.”
Also standing for election in the Waterloo ward are: Ian Fowler, Conservative, Tony Lee, Conservative, David O’Hara, Labour and Alma Robinson, Liberal Democrat.