Sarah was elected as MP for Rotherham on 29th November 2012 with 9,866 votes, (a 46.25% overall share of the vote) becoming the first woman MP for Rotherham. Labour achieved a majority of 5,218 (24.46%), an increase in terms of percentage from Rotherham’s 2010 general election result, but a decrease in the actual number of votes cast. Sarah was re elected at the 2015 General Election with 19,860 votes (52.5% of the total votes), achieving a majority of 8,446 (22.3%).
In an interview with BBC Radio Sheffield on 30 November 2012, Sarah said: “There are some people who from the moment they were born wanted to be a politician, whereas for me, since I started working, I’ve always been working with the community and I want to carry on doing that.”
In the Beginning
Sarah was born in Essex in 1969 and moved to Northamptonshire in 1977. She attended Prince William Comprehensive School in Oundle and then went on to gain a BA in Psychology at Sheffield University. Graduating in 1991, Sarah experienced first-hand how difficult it can be for young people to get on the career ladder in the middle of a recession.
She showed determination and initiative by volunteering at St Luke’s Hospice and at Abbeydale Road Secondary School, Sheffield, supporting art classes and recognising that experience was as important to employers as qualifications are. That led to her first paid job, running art and environment workshops in schools and libraries for Rotherham Borough Council. Sarah then gained full-time employment running Rotherham Arts Centre until, in 1994, she went to work for Ashfield District Council as their arts worker.
In 1996 Sarah was offered the position of running the Chinese Arts Centre in Manchester, which she did until 2008. This was an international agency promoting contemporary arts and culture. Sarah became heavily involved in promoting diversity and equality, advising the Arts Council of England on this for eight years. In addition, Sarah was a Trustee and Chair of many arts and community organisations including a community print co-operative, Boojum Theatre Company, Creative Capital and Step Out Arts.
In 2008, Sarah decided that she wanted her career to have real social benefit and was fortunate to become the Chief Executive of Bluebell Wood Children’s Hospice. The Hospice supports terminally terminally ill children and their families. It was a deep wrench to leave the Hospice to become an MP, but Sarah’s lifelong commitment to palliative care was demonstrated by her plea for the Government to support children’s hospices in her maiden speech.
When Parliament is sitting, Sarah is in London from Monday – Thursday, taking Rotherham’s concerns and issues to the House. There are a number of ways she represents Rotherham; speaking in debates, asking questions, lobbying Ministers and campaigning.
She led a high-profile inquiry into the effectiveness of current child sexual exploitation legislation, which culminated with a change in the law. Sarah is passionate about changing the lives of young people to make it easier for them to access opportunities and to give them a good start in life.
Sarah is the Shadow Secretary of State for Women and Equalities.
Champion proud to be the new MP for Rotherham
Acceptance speech 29th November 2012.