This is our brand new role models series where we hope to inspire you with every day people who are our real Champions of the North.
You can read our previous interviews here.
The Baroness Newlove is a North-West based community campaigner and activist. She was given a peerage in the 2010 Dissolution Honours list and sits in the House of Lords as a Conservative Peer.
In October 2010, she was appointed Government Champion for Active, Safer Communities. She wrote several reports on helping people make a difference to their neighbourhoods. Her report, Building Safe, Active Communities: Strong Foundations by Local People, was published on 14 February 2012 and announced a £1m fund from DCLG to help communities tackle alcohol-fuelled anti-social behaviour.
In December 2012, Lady Newlove was appointed Victims Commissioner for England and Wales. The Commissioner’s role is to: promote the interests of victims and witnesses; encourage good practice in the treatment of victims and witnesses; and keep under review the operation of the Code of Practice for Victims.
Q. What did you love about growing up in the North?
A. I loved my family life. We were a typical working class family, where my parents held down two jobs to support the family. People are warm and loyal and always there to help and support you. To me there was nowhere better than being at home and that is the way I still am today
Q. Did you have any challenges growing up in the North?
A. School was difficult with bullying as I wore glasses so there was the usual ‘specky four eyes’ and there was definitely a divide in those who did well and those who were average. I always think it is a shame that we still put frames around young people in education when they should peak. I always say we peak at different times which doesn’t mean that we do not have the intelligence for a prosperous future.
Q. Have you or do you face any challenges being female?
A. To me the biggest challenge is the male gender being too presumptuous or dismissive of your life. Wealth does not make you above everyone, what it does is make you more arrogant in your ignorance.
Q. What or who inspired your journey to where you are now?
A. People get asked this a lot and you hear them speak of great women leaders, but I have to say it is my mother. She had a very hard upbringing but always rolled her sleeves up to provide the best to everyone. Even at 85 years of age she still cooks meals for all her friends to make sure they get a hot dinner. Her strength and tenacity is remarkable and I think that has made me get up and strive to help others who have suffered like me and my daughters when my late husband Garry was brutally murdered outside our family home. I fight for my daughters to have the strength to carry on when you are at your lowest point in your life.
Q. What advice would you to give to girls growing up in the North?
A. Be proud of who you are. Beauty is truly on the inside. No one is better than you. As my father always used to say that ‘we all enter into this world the same way with hidden talents locked away in our DNA. They just gather speed at different times in our lives’
Q. How do you think we can encourage more young people about the importance of gender equality?
A. I have to say that I am not that ‘gender’ activist. We can get so fixated on gender that we miss a trick in not acknowledging the talent and skills of the individual. I think it is more of a culture within our society that has spread through to divide gender. We should be treated as equals for what we can do not for what gender we are. As a mother of three daughters, they always say to me that they wouldn’t want me to be selected for things and to be seen as a token gesture. They want me to be chosen for my capabilities so that I can ensure a future for others.
Q. Tell us some of your favourite Northern places.
A. You know what, I loved Salford where I was born, playing out on the street with tar and a lollipop stick. Going to the local park with my friends, this was a time when your parents let you go out and the streets were a lot safer than they are today. We always went on holiday to Blackpool one year for one week then the following year for two weeks, depending on what my parents could afford. It may not sound glamorous to people reading this, but I have to say that I had a ball on those holidays, donkey riding, sandcastles and crabbing. Simple things but memories that I will always cherish deep down in my heart. If we didn’t get away, then I loved spending time with my late Nanna in Wythenshawe. Going to Wythenshawe Park for hours at a time on the crazy golf course and just having some of the most fantastic, summer school holidays.
Q. Who are your favourite Northern people (alive or dead?)
I loved Cilla Black, so warm and down to earth. And well, you cannot miss out the stars from Coronation Street, who sadly most of them are no longer with us today. Remembering Hilda Ogden’s singing and Bet Lynch’s earrings! True Northern people trying to make the best for themselves. And I have to say a lot cheerier than EastEnders. God, you would slit your throat it is that depressing!
Q. Explain your love of the North in one sentence.
A. Hard working people, with warmth, loyalty and a cracking sense of humour.
Q. What would you like to see the #ThisNorthernGirlCan movement do?
A. Carry on talking. Whilst there is talk of the great Northern Power House, it must strive to push forward this movement to all walks of live. Plant a powerful seed for those that feel left behind. I always believe SMALL STEPS MAKE HUGE STRIDES. Create a great team to build that great machine for the future.
You can find out more about Helen and causes close to her heart that she is passionate and motivated about by following her on Twitter at @lady10newlove
If you want to be become part of our growing #ThisNorthernGirlCan movement then you can join over 1,ooo like minded women and men in our Facebook group. We’d love to see you there!
If you would like to be featured in this series or you wish to nominate a Northern role model ( male or female) then we’d love to hear from you.