East End girl could become first female Cypriot MP in the UK

Suzy Stride, an active member of the Cypriot community, is running to become the first ever Cypriot Women to sit in Parliament.

Stride has been a Labour activist since she was a teenager and ascribes her passion for politics to her upbringing in East London. Born in the East End, Suzy is running for the area she calls her home.

Suzy’s Grandma came to Britain on a boat in the 1950’s, she lived in abject poverty and often the family went hungry. Like many other families from Cyprus at that time her mum having English as her second language, meant she struggled. She was excluded from school before being placed into a children’s home.

Shaped by an understanding of her families’ struggles and a mother who was desperately poor with milk crates for furniture, Suzy has worked for the last 2 decades to support young vulnerable teenagers in Tower Hamlets, many from Bangladeshi, Black and other ethnic minority backgrounds.

She explains “how painful it is to see the similarities between the young people I work with in Tower Hamlets and the way my mum struggled, with not having opportunities.

Her experiences, she explains, have taught her that Britain needs people in parliament who have lived experiences of the issues they are fighting for. She added that a Labour government would transform the landscape of this country from schools to the NHS and housing.

But before running in a future general election, Suzy must win the Labour selection. She has been an active member of the Labour party for many years and has worked in local schools, youth centres & run community projects in Tower Hamlets for over 2 decades. She also helped advice the shadow cabinet on policy in how to engage young people in politics.

Stride said “We need strong voices in Parliament, people who have served their local communities who are angry with the injustice people face, and are willing to serve in Parliament to see lives and the nation changed, it’s not about power and it’s not about money it’s about having a heart and a vision to bring change and that’s what I will do for my area”

“The East End is such an amazing place to live but it deserves better. No young person should be born into a situation where they are less likely to fulfil their potential because of barriers outside of their control. A Labour government will bring down these barriers and change lives. If they get it in privileged areas why can’t they get it in Poplar – how many lives are wasted because the opportunities are just not there? I believe the greatest days for the East End are coming and I’m excited to play my part in continuing to serve my community”

The story of her mum ends well. Though she left school with no GCSEs she encouraged all of her kids to work hard, and 3 of them including Suzy went to Cambridge University from state schools. Her mother worked for The Island Neighbourhood Project, a local charity on the Isle of Dogs in Poplar. Suzy’s dad founded a social housing group, and has dedicated the last 40 years to helping to improve housing in one of the most deprived areas of the country. Part of his passion comes from living in council housing with 2 children and a pregnant wife whilst having a neighbour who was a violent alcoholic that threatened his family daily. Steve’s heart is for people to thrive in good quality housing and strong communities.

Suzy’s grandad is still remembered for his work with the homeless around brick lane in the 1970s. Suzy speaks of how when she was a kid she shared Christmas Day dinner with lots of strangers who she thought were close family friends, only to find out years later that they were in fact homeless people who her Grandad welcomed as family each year.

As an MP Stride would fight for her local area and also be a voice for Cypriots advocating for a just settlement: “The fact that Nicosia remains the last divided capital city in the world, that Famagusta remains a ghost town and many people including my family lost land and homes and friends due to the illegal occupation of northern Cyprus motivates me. Recently I was in Eptakomi village and saw the smashed up graveyard where my grandfather is buried, we could not find his tombstone because the graveyard was so destroyed. There is lots of hurt and sadness, but change is possible – as is resolution – and I will do everything in my power to bring this about”

Suzy has joined with Bambos Chambolos MP and others in beginning to found the first Labour friends of Cyprus Society. Nicos Anastasiades the president of Cyprus met with Stride recently “Suzy will be a powerful voice in the U.K. parliament for her local area and for the Cypriot diaspora”

Stride is no stranger to the media. Many would say she is exactly what the Labour Party needs. She was even named “1 of 5 women to watch in the country” alongside senior MPs- by Channel 4 News and Telegraph columnist, Cathy Newman.

Picture of Michael Yiakoumi

Michael Yiakoumi

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