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 Becky Brunskill - Durham County Council
Until last year I was working as a check out girl at Woolworths to pay my way through my course at Northumbria University, I never expected that I would celebrate my 21st birthday at the County Council
I live and have grown up in an ex-mining village in County Durham. It's so true that all councils need a range of backgrounds, my experience as a young person has been vital when making decisions about looked after children in the County, transportation, education...the list goes on and on.
It was a daunting experience at first, but you have to dig your roots, keep asking questions and getting to know people whether inside the civic building or in your patch.
As a Councillor you put in as much work as you want, the harder you work - the more you get back. The first thing I achieved was getting a burnt sign replaced. It was a simple task but sometimes the smallest things can make a huge difference to community pride. It's an addictive job where every day is different.
Nothing compares to the experience of being a councillor, you get a real insight into people's lives across all sections of society. You come across selfless people who dedicate their lives to their community, a project, an allotment or even a street. You soon come to learn that these people are priceless. Imagine if everyone did just one thing!
Politics doesn't get me excited anymore, improving my community does.
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.