Cllr Arif Hussain - Wycombe District Council
I came to England when I was eleven, unable to speak a word of English. I attribute my achievements to kind and wonderful people, such as my Headteacher, who devoted time and gave me assistance and direction.
As a result of this, I have always believed that you need to give something back to the community that you have extracted so much from. I strongly believe that we all have a responsibility to create an environment conducive to integration, respect and friendship amongst all communities. We can not always leave it to others.
I put myself forward to become a councillor, hoping to make a tangible difference to the community, having worked diligently in the background for many years as a local magistrate.
I thoroughly enjoy Group discussions and Council meetings, though they are often very heated - but this is only because everyone involved is very passionate about where we live and we all want the best for the people in our respective wards. It is also extraordinarily rewarding when one is able to assist local people and they go away smiling.
My advice to anyone interested in helping their local area would be to consider becoming a councillor - you can make a real difference to your local community.
Arif Hussain is a councillor for Terriers and Amersham Hill ward, Wycombe. Arif is a local serving Magistrate, school governor and Thames Valley Probation Board member.
Cllr Melanie Magee - Cherwell District Council
As someone who has a passion for my local community, I wanted to get more involved, but thought I wasn't the 'right sort of person' to do it. As a chartered full time HR professional, I realised my skills were valuable to the community, so I started volunteering with my local job club providing practical advice to job seekers, specifically the young unemployed and was inspired to stand as a local Councillor, subsequently being elected as a Town and District Councillor in 2011.
I went on to become Chairman of the Youth Liaison Group, and Lead Member for Apprenticeships & Employment Initiatives (the first in the UK). Through my role as a Councillor, I have been able to make a real difference to local people by engaging with them and the business community, leading on projects to ensure employment opportunities exist in my town which has become the fastest growing town in Europe, thus offering a fantastic opportunity to show how strong women who want to stand in public office, really can have a positive impact in their community.
I was lucky enough to have been chosen to become Deputy Mayor of my town in May 2012, only a year after being elected, and I went on to become Mayor in May 2013, making me the youngest female Mayor in my town so far. This has enabled me to inspire more young women to both consider standing for public office, and to follow their dreams and ambitions. The support and training I received through the CWO has been invaluable in helping me to achieve this.
Cllr Peter Chapman - Weymouth and Portland Borough Council
I got involved in local politics almost by accident.
I had in the past done some leafleting and small jobs for the local party in my home town of Plymouth. When I moved to Weymouth 3 years ago I signed up to help out in the same way but was persuaded to put my name forward for the local elections in 2007.
It was hard work canvassing and a bit daunting at first, not knowing the area well but the support I received from fellow candidates and party members kept me going and it must be the quickest way of getting to know an area, the geography, the people and the local issues.
There is of course a down side to being a Councillor in terms of the work and effort involved especially if you have other commitments. But the upside far outweighs the down.
You really do feel a part of the community and it's great when you can help people out, not just in your own ward but by influencing decisions that will have a positive impact across the Borough and affect how the community will evolve. There is also a great social side to life as a Councillor both with the people you work and the public you get to meet.
As a councillor you are a small cog in a large wheel, but it is the small cogs that give the council its momentum and direction.
I would recommend standing for your local Council, it is by far one of the best decisions I have ever made.