Carolyn Harris MP
Born and raised in her own constituency of Swansea East, Carolyn grew up with a keen interest in politics – even as a young child campaigning and canvassing within her community.
After gaining a degree in Social Policy from Swansea University in 1998, Carolyn continued to work within her community, setting up two centres for disaffected youths. This was followed by roles as a Regional Director for a capacity building not-for-profit organisation and then a Regional Manager for a children’s cancer charity.
Her Parliamentary career began in 2005 when she was employed by the then Member of Parliament for Swansea East, Sian James, working for her for nearly ten years, initially as a caseworker, and eventually as her Office Manager and Senior Parliamentary Assistant.
When Sian chose to step down in 2015, Carolyn was selected as the preferred Labour candidate for Swansea East and on 7 May 2015, she was elected as the constituencies Member of Parliament with a majority of over 12,000. After the snap general election in 2017, Carolyn was re-elected with an increased majority.
In early 2018, Carolyn announced that, alongside her Parliamentary role, she would be standing in the upcoming election for the first Deputy Leader of Welsh Labour. In a closely fought campaign, Carolyn was announced as the new Deputy Leader on 21April 2018.
In just four years in Parliament, Carolyn has risen from a backbencher to Shadow Home Affairs and Women & Equalities Minister. She is now regularly seen on the opposition benches or at the despatch box, debating with colleagues and urging the Government to make changes for the good of the people.
Aside from her Shadow Ministerial duties, Carolyn remains a true campaigner, and as such chairs the All Party Parliamentary Groups on State Pension Inequality for Women, Gambling Related Harm, Home Electrical Safety, Beauty Aesthetics & Wellbeing, Children in Wales and Bereavement. These are all issues that Carolyn cares passionately about, as she seeks to make changes that will benefit both her own constituents, and the public in general all around the country.
Carolyn has also taken the lead in some specific successful campaigns since becoming a Member of Parliament. She led in the call for the establishment of a Children’s Funeral Fund, to spare bereaved parents who suffer the devastating loss of a child the financial burden of burying their loved one. This campaign was very personal to Carolyn, having lost her own son Martin when he was just eight years old, and the reaction to it was phenomenal. The Welsh Labour Government introduced a Children’s Funeral Fund in 2017 and the UK government followed suit in July 2019.
Alongside this, in April 2019, Carolyn had another success, when the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport slashed the maximum stake for Fixed Odds Betting Terminals from £100 a spin to just £2. Having led a determined and passionate campaign, this was a hugely positive result for Carolyn and for all those cursed with an addiction to these machines.
Despite her ever-growing Parliamentary workload and her Deputy Leadership role, Carolyn still remains focused on the needs of her own community in Swansea East, holding weekly surgeries around the constituency every Friday. As well as this, her constituency office is open and staffed five days a week, offering support and advice to those in need.
Whilst the corridors of Westminster have become her political home – Carolyn is still the same Welsh girl who canvassed on the streets as a child. Swansea East and its people will always be the main focus of her attention.
Carolyn explains here why she agreed to become a patron of the Good Funeral Guide:
“I chose to become a patron because we need more services like GFG that we can lean on.
My own experiences have taught me that as a society we should be talking more about death and how we handle it. It touches us all and it happens to us all, at some point. Yet when that time comes the grief, the paperwork, the left behind belongings – all of it can be overwhelming.
What I want, is for people to know they don’t have to live up to the expectations of others when organising a service or funeral of a loved one. It is ok to say goodbye in your own way, within your own budget and with value for money being given due consideration too. Services like GFG can help with that and I am grateful for it.”