My Story - Cllr Barbara Foulkes

I’m Barbara Foulkes, I’m from Kirkwall on Orkney and I’m the councillor for Kirkwall West and
Orphir. I’m married with two grown up children and when off duty I am usually found walking the
dog or on the golf course! I was elected in 2017 and to celebrate international women’s day I’m
reflecting on why I decided to stand for election and how I am getting on two years later.

Why stand to be a local councillor?
The above is a great question - and particularly so if you are a woman. Personally, I stood
because:
1. I love the place I live in. It is the people that make Orkney, they are warm, friendly and
welcoming and I stood for elected office because I wanted to work for them, to make a
difference to the quality of life for people here.

2. I wanted to get involved in local decision making. I’ve always been involved in local
groups; I am by nature interested in how things are done, why and for who. It is part of my
DNA. I have always been political - I’m a card-carrying Liberal Democrat. These interests
drew me towards elected office.

3. You cannot be it if you cannot see it- and we don’t see enough women in local
politics. We need more women in local politics. We are more than 50% of the population
but make up only 30% of elected members in Local Government. Women are
underrepresented! I also believe women often bring an open mindedness and a resolution
and solution focused approach that is sometimes missing in local politics. Women can
make a massive difference in political life. I wanted to be one of those women and I wanted
to encourage other women into the role too.

And how am I doing - two years on from being elected?

It’s pretty much full time and very rewarding. The day to day meetings at which meaningful
decisions are made take up a lot of time – but to be at the heart of the discussions on the strategic
future for Orkney is so important to me.

The contact with the people who live in the ward is critical. The best part of the job (and yes, it is a
job) is helping someone with a problem. Meeting the members of the electorate one to one means
you build up real relationships; it is humbling to be trusted to take the issues they raise forward on
their behalf. There is not always a solution and that is hard to accept but most of time we can so
something; when we can’t it often helps people just to be a listening ear.

I am a better talker than a writer. I am writing this in the hope that more women will stand for local
election. Join the conversation and give more women a voice.

If you would like to get in touch directly my contact details are
barbara.foulkes@council.orkney.gov.uk and I’m on Facebook as Barbara Foulkes Councillor