SARAH RICHARDSON – Conservative councillor for Churchill ward, Westminster
‘What people sometimes need is a good advocate’
Sarah Richardson (pictured) clearly takes a vocational approach to her role – although she admits she draws the line to her involvement in residents’ affairs at disputed parking tickets.
“I suppose there are things I do for residents that would normally be a social worker’s job, but it depends on the circumstances” – she says.
One such case involved a Polish family of four confined to a cramped one-bedroom flat. “They were a well-known, well-respected family; the father was a key worker, and they were dream tenants,” Richardson says. “They had applied for a bigger home but had been repeatedly turned down by the housing association.
“Because they came to me directly, and it doesn’t cost me anything to write a few letters, I took it on.
“For the next year I wrote constantly to the chief executive of the housing association. When he finally agreed to meet me and told me that they’d found a three-bedroom flat for the family, I burst into tears.
“Of course there are lots of excellent social workers who will go the extra mile, but sometimes what people need is an advocate. And a good councillor can be that advocate.
“When it comes to a genuine injustice I believe in getting involved”.