I am a 51 year old working mum of five – not all at home thank goodness. Im a member of the Women for Independence National Executive. This Blog is growing and changing as my hopes and aspirations change. I actually DO expect to change the world but I accept that might not even make sense sometimes. I hope you enjoy the read.

Susan Lyons – Hustings address

Hello Everyone I am delighted – if not a little nervous to be talking to you here.

My journey and my relationship with the SNP as a voter began with the opening of the Scottish Parliament. Women for Independence taught me that I have the ability and confidence to influence policy and people and joining the SNP brought that into sharp focus. I spoke locally and nationally on behalf of WFI during the referendum campaign and I was elected to WFI National Executive earlier this year. I’m the National Policy lead on carers, speaking with ministers and civic Scotland leaders. I was involved in discussions with the Scottish Government following the referendum, meeting with John Swinney and Linda Fabiani to agree areas which should be included in submissions to the Smith Commission.

I have worked as a manager in the public Sector and in Business Development, I have helped my first husband run a small business. I have been a volunteer and on the boards of various charities. When I was a single mum I took whatever job I could find to make ends meet, delivering phone books, cleaning, call centre worker. I currently work in the Third Sector, supporting unpaid carers and travelling around the whole of the Highlands. My work has enabled me to have a real understanding of the way a variety of sectors operate in our different communities.

I believe passionately that everyone should have the opportunity to achieve their potential, to have a safe, secure place to live, to work, and be supported to live a full and happy life.

As your candidate people – you – will be at the heart of the work I do.

For me, the job of an MSP is about being your voice in Holyrood, listening to you, reflecting your views and speaking on your behalf. I promise you I will be a loud, strong Highland voice – even with my Lancashire accent.

Many people look at the Highlands and say how lucky we are and indeed we are, But living here comes at a price, higher fuel costs to heat your home, to drive to the doctors or the hospital, lack of affordable housing and poor infrastructure like public transport and access to health and of course Broadband. Wages can be lower here, managing on Benefits here is hard and the tax credit cuts will plunge more of our children into poverty. People are struggling including carers, people with disabilities and those with mental ill health. There is plenty of work to be done to improve the support people get in rural areas and I promise to speak up for people on all these issues.

Housing is close to my heart. The pleasure of owning your own home remains sadly out of reach for many as it has been for me since my first marriage ended. In our constituency so many houses are holiday lets or second homes that it can be difficult to find somewhere to live. I understand how that feels. 12 years ago I was left with nothing except the children and my clothes. Although working I faced homelessness, when the flat I was renting was put up for sale. I felt powerless and desperate. I have never forgotten that feeling. I will work hard to find housing solutions which support communities and enable people to live, work and bring their families up here.

Running a business here can be difficult, Tourism, farming are vital parts of our economy and many issues can seriously affect the performance of these often small businesses – particularly poor connectivity, high postal costs and poor transport. Farming and crofting is a distinctive way of life and yet it can be difficult, even impossible for our young people to step into a life as a crofter. Businesses are often affected by decisions made in Parliaments which can seem distant whether they are in Brussels, Westminster or even Holyrood. As your candidate I will work with my colleagues – MPs, MEPs to bring your voices closer to all these places. I will hold those responsible for delivering services to businesses and individuals to account, seeking answers and demanding actions from them.

The creation of one job in our communities is as important to us as 1000 jobs in the central belt. It enables a family to live in that community, children to stay in school, parents to shop at the local shop and young people to stay here.

So I will do everything I can to support the creation of work and the growth of enterprise in this constituency, overcoming obstacles through encouraging innovation and investment I will work with whoever I can but especially with you, to address these issues and enable the development of healthy, vibrant and growing communities.

I will always passionately speak up for Independence and I am committed to reaching out to people across the constituency to convince them that Independence is the way to a better fairer society.

I chose to come to live here in Scotland 20 years ago when I moved from Rochdale to rural Caithness and then south to Inverness. My whole life is invested here in the Highlands, I have children grown up here, children born here. I will be committed to this constituency and if elected then my husband, John and I will live in this constituency, we will bring our family up here, the children will go to school here, we will be part of the fabric of the community. In doing that I will be the loudest voice, the best advocate, and the most accessible MSP you could have.

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