We’ve invited all the local election candidates to complete this questionnaire so you know more about the people asking for your vote on the 4th of May. We’re also compiling a list of their websites and social media accounts so you can follow them and get in touch if you have any questions.Follow @mycardiffnorth
Name – Joy Coughlan
Party – Labour
Ward – Gabalfa
Facebook – GabalfaGydaiGilydd
How can people get in touch with you? – Facebook or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Tell us about yourself
Originally born in Dublin Ireland, I moved to England in my late teens, then settled in Wales and have lived here happily for 10 years. Wales has been extremely welcoming to me and I’m very pleased I found it as a home. People tell me that what they love about Ireland is the friendliness, but I have found the exact same here, tied in with a wonderful cultural heritage, open-mindedness and appreciation for the national language.
My background is proudly working-class and I have had a variety of jobs in my life, which have enriched my experience in different ways. My first one was holding a sign pointing to a clothing store for hours on end when I was a teenager. I like to think this helped my patience! I found my niche in support work, as it allows you to help others help themselves. It also gives the opportunity to use the experience of any struggles you have had in your life as empathy for others hardships, therefore turning a negative to a positive. My favourite quote has always been “Our prime purpose in this life is to help others. And if you can’t help them, at least don’t hurt them.”
Since I was a kid, I’ve loved animals and been concerned about their welfare. My poor mother was constantly besieged by random animals I brought home, like baby birds who had fallen out of nests or creatures who I was adamant needed nursing to health. Luckily she was an animal lover too and put up with me! To this day, a home doesn’t seem like a proper home to me unless I have a furry companion of some variety.
As a member of the LGBT community, a woman, and a human being, I’m passionate about injustice and equalities, having had involvement in various ways since my teens. It is important to me that I do not only promote equality that applies to me, but above all amplify the voices of other marginalised groups, such as the Black and Minority Ethnic communities.
To relax, I like to spend time with animals, read, write poetry, go to the theatre, cinema or gigs. Thankfully there are no shortage of things to get up to in Cardiff!
What are the biggest issues in your ward?
It very much depends on where you are in Gabalfa, but general themes tend to circle around fly-tipping, road repair, parking and speeding. In addition there is plenty of individual case-work for us to get stuck into!
What’s your favourite place in Cardiff and why?
The Millennium Centre in Cardiff Bay. It is a beautifully imposing building that holds so much magic inside for the pupils trouping in and out of there daily. Taking a break on the couches there frequently means getting caught up in free performances. Brilliant example of the thriving and accessible arts culture here.
What do you think should be done to improve engagement in politics?
Firstly I believe the voting age should be lowered. Long term decisions are being made that will affect generations and it seems only fair to me that they get a say.
Secondly I feel that a more diverse range of people need to be encouraged to be involved. Especially at higher levels, it can be thought of as something only a certain type of person with a certain background can be influential and people think it would not be possible for them to be that voice. But communities need voices from those communities, with their backgrounds, speaking for them. The bubble needs squashing.
Lastly, I believe it puts people off to see their representatives aiming low blows, squabbling like children and being frankly very rude. Politics doesn’t need to be like that, if we all just want the best for our community and society, we can promote that and debate without going back to the worst of the schoolyard. So, I would suggest that honest, respectful and fair behaviour would help to engage more people to get involved.
What’s your favourite film?
As Good as It Gets.
If You’re Elected
What will you do to improve your ward?
Being a representative, to me, means listening to those who are directly affected and basing your policies on what you hear, rather than the other way around, Therefore from the conversations I have had on the doorstep: I would campaign for a fair share of the budget for road improvements to be spent in Gabalfa. To help solve the parking issues I would communicate with residents and local businesses, seeking to ensure more residents parking where needed and considering any other possible solutions. In addition I would be active in and promote the Love Where You Live campaign, towards a cleaner and greener Gabalfa. As well as this, I would intend to be very involved in any issues residents wished assistance with on an individual casework level.
How will you communicate with residents in your ward?
Engaging with the community I would be representing is very important to me. I would intend to hold regular surgeries, street stalls and door knock residents. In addition I would communicate through newsletters, social media, phone and email.
What issues that affect the whole city would you like to get involved in?
The Love Where You Live campaign is one which I feel is important. I feel it brings communities together to solve issues such as littering and also puts pressure on those who affect the city in this way to think about what they are doing.
I would also be vocal on caring for our most vulnerable. Cardiff has a big heart and that can be reflected in our policies going forward.
What would you change about Cardiff and why?
I would wish to further improve public transport and cycle routes, as I feel that not only will this make Cardiff an even greener city, it would also help with traffic congestion.
Any final comments?
It would be an honour to represent my neighbours in Gabalfa. I would promise to listen to you and work hard, respectfully and honestly for our community.