I WRITE in response to Mr Paterson’s letter of April 15. My response has the full backing of the Sitwell Ward Labour Team.
Mr Paterson wrote a carefully crafted letter hoping to undermine and devalue the person I am and the kinds of work and volunteering I have taken part in for so long. I therefore felt I needed to exercise a right of reply, to defend my character which was being so unfairly targeted.
Unlike some of our opponents, Sitwell Ward Labour will not engage in negative campaigning, such as making inaccurate criticisms of people, bad-mouthing them in the hopes of petty point-scoring.
I have been involved in community support in the areas where I live for as long as I can remember. I was raised that way. When I moved in to the area of Sitwell Ward in 2012 I became involved with many initiatives: raising money for the flooding disasters, working first hand with victims of the floods and with Environmental Agencies in the clean-up. I’ve cared about this Sitwell Ward since I became a home owner here, wanting what everyone in their local community wants, a safe, clean and pleasant place to live.
I became involved with Friends In Deed after volunteering with them, which was and still is a litter picking initiative. Nationally, there are often litter picking drives and this just happened to be the local one that I was first involved with. My litter picking and looking after the area is unrelated to my politics; to actively make a difference in my community is a core principle of mine. Hi-Vis jackets are standard workwear for this borough and across the country when working anywhere near open roads. We have to wear them for health and safety as we also have to sanitise all equipment used; the equipment I use is not new, as Mr Paterson claims, merely clean and in line with health and safety regulations. I am not wearing Hi-Vis to, as Mr Paterson suggests, “await accolades”. Any local support I give relates to my core values and are not publicity stunts.
You mention an elderly gentleman who picks up litter in the Whiston area. Rather than “shake his hand” as you state you would like to do, why not join him and help this “unsung hero”? I would happily arrange to meet up with you both and help litter picking in that area also.
I volunteer with many charities such as McMillan Cancer, British Heart Foundation, Dementia Friendly and Disability Groups. Throughout the pandemic, I have donated food to NHS Staff in Rotherham District General Hospital and made donations to Hospital Charity Trust, while also delivering food to at-risk residents in the borough.
I never have and never will try to “con the electorate” as Mr Paterson claims. If I were to photograph every piece of voluntary work I have done, I would be able to fill many albums! I merely add the odd photo to illustrate the kinds of volunteering I am involved with now I am running as a candidate — but I must stress that all my local volunteering started years before this election.
Actually, through my years of volunteering, working in housing services and meeting with the many individuals who benefit from these services, I felt I could make more of an impact working at a council level. It was then that I became involved in local politics.
As the Labour campaign began, a new social media profile was created by one of our members and I was asked for photos to evidence and illustrate the kind of activities I do to help the community, as social media does reach many of our electorate.
For any further evidence or information, you will find full interviews and regular updates on the work we are doing for Sitwell Ward. We never agreed to or voted for the recent housing developments, as you suggest; we as a Sitwell Ward Labour are opposed to the new developments being built and will always speak up about these ongoing issues. However, we are always more than happy to discuss with and work with individuals, regardless of our political differences.
Haroon Rashid, Sitwell Ward Labour