As Lib Dems, we care deeply about being as fair and representative as we can. Knowing the locality is a great first step.
Our local areas are constantly changing. Factors such as the availability and affordability of housing, opportunities for work, quality of life and migration patterns shapeshift our localities. Representing the diversity of our local areas will always be a work in progress.
Research Your Area
You may define your locality as your ward, or constituency. A great first step is to map out the members. Are there geographical gaps in your memberships and if so, why is that?
There’s a wealth of ways to find out more about your local area. The Office for National Statistics, Nomisweb, NHS Fingertips, House of Commons library, electoral calculus, and local council reports are all great sources, and there will inevitably be local sources you can use. If there are elected politicians or academics among you, then they may have access to other data sources.
You can also look at your ward or constituency on Wikipedia, or review the maiden speech made by your local MP to see what features they noted about the area.
What features define your area? Are you in a rural outpost or a busy metropolis? Do you have any environmental concerns e.g. poor air quality? Coastal erosion? Is it affluent, deprived or mixed?
What patterns of migration has your area seen? Is there a notable religious community? Is your area a place where speakers of other languages have created their own community? Are you close to a university, or several primary schools? Do you have an older than average population? What is the health of your area like? What are the important political issues?
Do you have a key local employer? A town centre? What is happening in the housing market, and is that creating problems such as homelessness or difficulty in getting onto the housing ladder? What charities have a presence in your area and do you have a connection with them? Is the local economy excelling or in decline and what does that mean for the residents? Gentrification for example, is often good for the local economy, but bad for renters or those trying to get onto the property ladder. If large local employers move out, then housing may be more affordable, but investment into the area in future may be less likely.
Commit to Action
Begin by making a commitment to cover diversity at each meeting, and then establish some actions to take, and subsequently evaluate. This might include street surveying a ward that you don’t usually visit, or doing a street stall in an area that has seen big changes. It could be visiting a local Gurdwara to establish a link and create a network.
The gold standard, as always, is knocking on doors. By engaging with all areas of your community on the doorstep, you are visibly showing that you are present, you care and you are interested in what they have to say.