Cllr Paul Wray
I've lived and worked in South Leeds and the Hunslet and Riverside Ward (formally City and Hunslet Ward) for the last 12 years.
I was born in Lower Wortley, West Leeds, on a council estate. It was a good place to live but like many estates, it could at times be an interesting place.
The youngest of three siblings, I was the most academic and valued education. This essential trait helped me catch up with my schooling after a slow start as I had poor speaking skills and had to attend therapy when I was a toddler. I knew education from that point on was the way to get ahead and grasp the opportunity life gives.
I was never unpopular, but I was a bit of a teacher’s pet and an unfashionable geek. I had a fairly unremarkable school life, but due to the earlier speech issues, my spelling has always suffered. People say however, that what I lacked in written ability, I made up for with the spoken word and I have never shy of debate.
My mum, like many others, would have given the world to us and she did numerous part-time jobs on low pay to keep food on the table and our home warm - keeping us healthy and active. I learned from her that work was not just about surviving, it was also about self-respect and providing for a better tomorrow. I've never forgotten the lesson.
After turning twenty, I flew the nest and moved to Leeds City Centre on the edge of the border between what is now Leeds Riverside and South Bank and Hunslet and have been here ever since. South Leeds has become my home and I have no intention to move.
I attend university to study history and politics - the first in my family.
Though I received a loan, I still had to work, and sadly toward the end of my degree, the needs of paying for my home and other living costs became too much, and I withdrew halfway through my last year. It taught me a lot about the harsh reality of survival in modern Britain - you can have aspirations, but if you can't pay the bills, your chances can be cut off.
I have never forgotten that lesson and it has informed my politics and commitment to making sure others have the chances they need to get ahead.
I got my first job when I was sixteen, was working for a bakery company, which I did for a few years. I became somewhat of an expert on making sandwiches and baking pastries - all this despite hating the feel of flour.
I then worked on the shop floor of a catalogue store and sometimes helping out in the storeroom. I did this for a few year until I was made redundant for the first time at the age of eighteen.
I hadn't expected this to happen so soon in my life, but I was lucky and was only out of work for a week and started to work at a wholesaler, again working on the shop floor at the checkout.
I moved to my first call centre job as a recovery agent for a telecoms company, dealing with unpaid bills or billing complaints before I moved on to a debt purchaser. I found the job very uncomfortable at times. Many of my work colleges were harsh and unforgiving. Others including myself, took a more supportive role, seeking to advise people of the benefits they could claim or other ways of getting extra help.
I then moved to a similar role again until I was made redundant for the second time at twenty-four. The last debt company I worked for had simply no compassion for its customers, and by the time I was made redundant, it was it was a release from a deeply upsetting role.
I was lucky again and found work straight away with my current employer, as an energy efficiency advisor - a job I love.
I spend my day helping people, mostly the most vulnerable, to take control of their energy bills. That feeling I get knowing I've helped someone never grows old and I have now done it for six years.
I'm proud to be a Labour Councillor for the people of Hunslet and Riverside, and support people in the community I have called home since I was 18 years old.
I joined Labour at 14 years old and have been a membership ever since.
Why wouldn’t I want to continue to fight to offer the same opportunities for to a new generation?
Labour was the only party I could ever see offing that as a matter of principle. Our commitment to others enables them to achieve the unthinkable, to make their aspirations a reality, for the betterment of all. I see it as a duty to ensure those opportunities continue, that achievement continues to happen.
Pretty much all my spare time is committed to the party and making sure we are in our communities - listening to what they need.
2016 Council Election Adel and Wharfedale Ward
2018 Council Election Hunslet and Riverside Ward (Elected)
2019 Council Election Hunslet and Riverside Ward (Elected)
2016 Council Election for Cllr Judith Blake
City and Hunslet Branch Labour Party
Secretary 2014 - 2018
ITC Officer 2012 -2018
Campaign Coordinator 2013-2017
Hunslet and Riverside Branch Labour Party
Secretary 2018 - Present
Leeds Central Constituency Labour Party
Secretary 2014 - 2016
I'm increasingly becoming more active in community work in my area. I think it's vital to get involved and make a difference. Below are some of the activities I'm currently involved in on a regular basics - though I'll get involved in other community projects or activities as and when they happen such a community clean ups and attending regular local Tenant and Resident Association meetings.
I'm proud to be the governor of one of three local Schools:
Hunslet Carr Primary School
Hunslet St Mary's Primary School
Lane End Primary School
Friends of groups add huge value to our communities and I'm proud to be an active volunteer of office in:
Friend's of Cross Flats Park
Friend's of Trentham Park
Friend's of Hunslet Moor
Hunslet Community Gardening
I've spend a number of years supporting them develop their social media platforms and helping them reach more of the 74000 plus carers in Leeds - carers who do such a vital job of looking after some of the most vulnerable in our society.
I'm an active member of the festival organisation committee and have the responsibility for organising the entertainment for young people, as well as helping set up and close down the festival on the day.
Leeds City Council Coronavirus
The Labour Party
Leeds City Council
Declaration of Interest
Labour Group Office, Leeds Civic Hall, Calverley St, Leeds, LS1 1UR
Promoted by Hunslet and Riverside Labour Party, on behalf of Paul Wray, all at 124 West Point, Wellington Street, Leeds, LS1 4JL
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