Wonderful Women Interview #23 – Kerry Bailes

Bristol Women’s Voice Wonderful Women Awards were presented as part of our International Women’s Day celebrations on the 3rd of March. We celebrated over 50 women from across Bristol  who had been nominated for their contribution to their communities.

Kerry Bailes

Kerry Bailes received a Wonderful Women Award for her work with people experiencing Homelessness and for always being on the front line of events empowering others, shouting loud against injustice and fighting for change.

What advice would you give your younger self?

Speak when you think you shouldn’t and listen when you think you don’t need to.

Stick up for yourself as much as you do other people.

Push your own boundaries,  not other peoples.

Believe in yourself.    

Which women have inspired you?        

My mum. Growing up was difficult in such a deprived area, both my parents worked but money was still tight. I didn’t do well at school but despite my wild, carefree and even belligerent teenage years my mum was still full of encouragement, always telling me “you can do anything if you put your mind to it”.

It wasn’t until she passed away three years ago that I really realised how independent she’d taught me to be growing up. She allowed me to make all my own mistakes in life, but no matter what, she was always there, at the end of the phone or at home where I knew the door was always open and that I was always welcome.

What do you want to see change for women in Bristol?

I live in an area where domestic abuse towards women is much higher than most parts of Bristol, where it seems to be more socially acceptable than anywhere else in the country. I’d like to see a significant change in the attitude towards victims of abuse (who are predominately women). I’d like to see schools take more responsibility for the prevention of domestic abuse by adding it to the national curriculum.

Perhaps if schools include politics on their curriculums younger women might follow in the footsteps of the suffragettes and Dagenham Ford factory women and unionise to ensure a fairer society for future generations. I’d like to see schools teach more about politics and democracy so that more women go on to be elected or take up leadership positions – not only in Bristol but nationally. Only then will we see women receive equality. 

Is there anything that you have read, seen or listened to recently which has inspired you?

A dear friend gave me the DVD Made in Dagenham. The Ford factory workers used the power of unions to fight for their rights and changed the law, not an easy thing to achieve by the working class, let alone female working class! To this day, it’s an achievement to aspire to.

Are there three words you would use to describe your local community?

Strong, Deprived and Misunderstood.

What hopes do you have for your local community in 2018?

I hope to see more residents in the BS13 area become active in removing the stigma of living in what used to be a council estate – a council estate that has seen many ups and downs including the renowned riot during the turbulent years of the 1990’s. We’ve come a long way since then and the rest of Bristol should recognise this.

Bristol Women’s Voice are marking 100 years since the first women in the UK were given the vote with ‘Deeds not Words’ a year-long programme of events across the city. Find out about Deeds not Words events in Bristol here

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