When I was 16, unmarried and with a baby on the way, I was told that I would never amount to anything.
You can imagine how I felt.
Ironically, that prediction also made me determined to make something of my life. I started working as a care worker. That job showed me what decent care means to people. But the treatment of my fellow care workers made me angry – we were on zero hour contracts, treated like serfs and often pushed to breaking point. I knew things had to change.
I refused to be quiet and soon, my fellow care workers were pushing me forward to make our case for better treatment to management. My trade union, Unison constantly encouraged me and actively supported my development.
When I was elected to Parliament I spoke of these experiences in my maiden speech. Being a young mum, a full-time carer, a trade union organiser. These experiences have made me who I am and have pushed me forward to try and do more. That’s why I became an MP – I felt I could do more in an elected position to help people and make change for the better.
For many others, making change may not mean standing for election But a crucial part will be in developing themselves – and other people. So that they have the self-confidence and commitment to be agents for change and leaders in their own communities.
Movement for Change activists today face the same challenges that I faced – money worries, family difficulties, work problems, community pressures.
Through Movement for Change people have come together – in building a community of support, for themselves, their families, work colleagues, friends and neighbours. Examples include bringing people together to tackle waste and neglect in our big cities and in our rural communities; improving vital bus services; renovating abandoned derelict buildings which have blighted a neighbourhood. It has also helped, crucially, to build the power of young people in a community which has seen extremist recruitment.
In work, Movement for Change has led action on zero-hours contract and wages. ‘Just Jobs’ campaigners in Great Yarmouth have reformed their local Jobcentre, and built an organised group of Jobcentre users committed to tackling unemployment.
Money worries brought the ‘Sharkstoppers’ movement together, capping the cost of credit and improving access to fairer forms of credit.
In Brighton and Hove, the ‘Home Sweet Home’ Campaign have been fighting for tenants and better conditions in rented housing.
These are all people who are working together, developing their campaigning skills, knowledge and experience, bringing real change for the better.
That’s why I am proud to be playing my part at How to Build a Movement for Change, an event, led by these local champions, which takes place next Sunday, 27th September 2015.
This year’s event will showcase the ‘MoneyWise Women’, who are challenging the disgraceful behaviour of some bailiffs and improving financial stability for women in Barrow.
We’ll be hearing about how ‘Home Sweet Home’ tackled ‘revenge eviction,’ preventing tenants from being evicted just for speaking out, helped them feel more secure in their homes and helped change the law.
The event will also see the launch of ‘Through Our Eyes’, a national movement for change on domestic violence. It will bring together local leaders who have been building ‘Safe Spots’, improving police training, and winning better relationship education in primary schools – all to change how we deal with domestic abuse.
When people share these stories next Sunday, their work will speak for itself. About support. Community. And change.
They show that if we work together, support one another and channel our efforts into action we can change our lives, our communities, and our country. For the better.
I hope you will join me there.
Angela Rayner is MP for Ashton-under-Lyne, and will be hosting How to build a Movement for Change at Labour Party conference.