Jamie Wake 2014 Independent Candidate for Whitley ward in the Reading Local Elections
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    January 2nd, 2012jamiewakerdgcandidate, community

    Well it seems that I can now use that popular excuse that I have been too busy to write on my blog recently and having scanned my previous entries, I see that I last wrote an artical in November!

    For those of you that either follow me on Twitter, Facebook or know me in the flesh outside of cyberspace, you’ll know that December was a relatively busy month for me and I have used the month to reflect on the choices I have made during 2011 as well as put some thought into decisions that I need to make in 2012.

    As it happens, I used the month of December to take some time out to decide what would be the right direction for me with regards to the community campaigning that I do in Whitley and for the LGBT Community in Reading.  Since my accident I have spent a lot of time with my thoughts though I’m never sure if that’s a good thing or not!

    As many of you know, when I originally made the decision to be more active in community politics, I found all of the political parties to be much of a muchness.   I could have joined any of them as they all seemed to engage in playground antics so I chose to join the party that appeared to do more for LGBT equality that the others – I ended up choosing the Lib Dems and stood in 2011 as the Candidate in Whitley where I encountered homophobia and scaremongering.  Thankfully, I used this experience to launch the OK 2B Gay Campaign and started to make some noise about LGBT Equality which was starting to be heard by most of the local branches political parties – even the party that I had joined.  As part of the OK2bGAY Campaign, I shared Tory MP Rob Wilson’s poor voting record on LGBT Equality and the fact that it took him a number of months for him to write back to me.  I also felt the need to remind the newly appointed Labour LGBT Officer of some of his partys failings which was followed by Duncan Bruce labelling me as acting as the only gay in the village on his blog.  (I love comedy catchphrases as much as the next man – though I’m sure I recall Reading Labour pulling up Reading Lib Dems on a members use of an Ali G Catchphrase.)  That aside, I wish the Richard the very best in his role and I hope at some point that all of the LGBT officers in Reading’s political parties band together to tackle discrimination, in-equality and make a difference for the LGBT Community.

    I also took some stick from a few Lib Dems in Cyberspace when I shared my views of the in-equality on the gay marriage consultation and the so called end of the blood ban.  I fail to see the need for a consultation on Gay Marriage and if we’re a country that promotes equality for all, then it should just be passed as law.

    In Labour and the Lib Dems defence,  Labour appointed a LGBT Officer (coincidentally following rumours of homophobic and transphobic Whistleblowing on various blogs) and at the Reading Lib Dem’s AGM, a motion was put forward to create a dedicated team that ensures that LGBT people in Reading have their needs represented – publicly and not hidden behind closed doors, to give LGBT people a voice on the council and to ensure that any local manifesto also includes campaigns that demonstrate a commitment to LGBT equality.

    I’m not sure if Reading Tory’s have a dedicated individual for LGBT campaigns though if you believe everything you read in the Reading Newspapers, they appear to have enough problems to contend with at the moment.

    I am pleased though that every party voted in favour of a LGBT Support Centre in Reading and it was suprising that even Cllr Rob White (Leader of the Greens) turned up and raised his arm in the air to vote rather than sit on them.  I helped Lorna McArdle write her speech and produced a video for her and I wish all the best with the project which will based at South Street.

    I’m not making the statements above to be harsh or score any sort of political points, just to demonstrate that all parties are just as good and as bad as each other.  None of them set out to make bad decisions but they’re all obviously going to be desperate to keep and/or gain seats on the council and the spats between them all are played out each week in our Local Newspapers.

    Is that what I signed up for when I wanted to make a difference in my community?  No.  That’s why I have made the decision to not be alligned with any political party and leave the Lib Dems.  I obviously have personal reasons for handing my membership back but those reasons are simply that – personal.  My membership to a political party could also be seen as a conflict of interest when it comes to the LGBT Campaigning that I do as well as the work that I do in my community.  I am now sat back on the Committee of the Kennet Island Residents Association and have just become a Trustee of Reading Pride so I’m sure you can see my difficulty!   I informed the local party in December of my intention.

    I do need to add though that there are some really good committed Cllrs accross all of the parties in Reading but then again there are also a few bad ones who do not turn up to Council Meetings and claim credit for other peoples hard work.

    That being said, I do intend to stand as an Independent Candidate in this years Local Elections though.  Being independent means that I can continue to demonstrate my commitment to the needs of my local community rather than the needs of a political party.  This gives the community a genuine alternative that represents them and doesn’t waste time on political playground antics which could be better spent on making a difference.  My manifesto will be released shortly which has been devised following feedback from residents here in Whitley.

    In the meantime, I wish you all a Happy and Prosperous New Year!

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    Reading Vigil Against Hate Crime

    Leading the Reading Vigil Against Hate Crime

    Last night, I had the privilege and pleasure of organising (and obviously attending!) Reading’s Vigil Against Hate Crime which was held in the Oscar Wilde Memorial Walk.

    It was a great turn out and it began with a short speech from myself (Transcript below) followed by a candlelit walk, 2 minute silence and a balloon release. Balloons had to be released one by one to abide by Reading Borough Council Regulations (no string either!) but that added to what could only be described as a magical moment. As the balloons were released, they formed a spiral as they headed up into the sky and then formed a star. If that wasn’t magical enough, the precision timing of a huge flock of white birds flying above only added to the magic. It was a poignant moment that I don’t think you could create again if you tried.

    Here is the Transcript of my speech:

    Tonights vigil is the first in Reading and joins the many others taking place at this very moment in time.

    To remind you, tonight is about tackling the issue of hate together – taking a moment to stand with those who have lost loved ones and giving our support to those that need it. Our message is a simple one – it’s one of Hope, Remembrance and Positive Action.

    So why are we here? Because people are still being attacked on our streets and extremist propaganda encourages people like David Copeland to try and hurt so many in horrific attacks.

    Even this week, we have heard about the horrific murder of Stuart Walker and the hospitalisation of two men in Leicester.

    These vigils have been organised for the 17-24-30 campaign. Their name represents the days that the 3 London nail bombs were planted:

    17th April – Brixton Market

    24th April – Brick Lane

    30th April – The Admiral Duncan, Soho

    3 people were killed and more than 130 injured during Copelands 3 bomb attacks including a 23 month old baby with a nail in his head.

    Please follow me on a candlelit walk to remember those we have lost to hate crime, to put our differences to one side and work together in unity to give Reading a voice to say No to Hate Crime.

    Although a symbolic event, I see Reading’s vigil growing each year and perhaps next year we can organise a choir and some speakers to address the crowd. Sadly, only the LGBT Community came to the event including representatives from Reading Pride and SupportU. It was also great to see members of Reading’s Political Parties in attendance including Cllr Daisy Benson, Group Leader of the Reading Lib Dems, Cllr Tim Harris from Reading Conservatives and Richard Wood, LGBT Officer for Reading Labour. Everyone sharing a common cause. I had invited the Reading Council Racial Equality but I don’t think they were able to attend so hopefully next year they’ll be able to attend.

    I would like to take this opportunity to thank all of those that did attend.

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    October 22nd, 2011jamiewakerdgcommunity, discrimination, event, gay, hate crime, homophobia, jamie wake, lgbt, local

    I am privileged to be coordinating this event:

    On Friday 28th October 2011, people in Reading are invited to gather at the Oscar Wilde Memorial Walk to say NO TO HATE CRIME. At 7.45pm, a candlelit walk will take place ending with a 2 minute silence at 8pm to coincide with other vigils taking place in the UK and abroad. This will be followed by a release of balloons to remember those who have been affected by Hate Crime.

    This year we are looking at Homophobia, Transphobia, Rasicsm and Disability Hate Crime and addressing the issue of bullying in our schools, workplaces and our communities.

    So what is it all about?

    It is about tackling the issue of hate crime together, taking a moment to stand with those who have lost their loved ones and giving our support to those who need it. Our message is Hope, Remembrance and Positive action.

    At the last two national vigils those who attended said that the event gave them a sense of community, that they felt that they were part of something and that is what we are trying to do. Help people connect with each other but also to ensure that those who have been attacked know that they are not alone. That we are there for them.

    It is also about inspiring people especially young people to get involved. Images from the Vigils have been circulated around the world and have been used in various projects. We want to encourage all people to do something positive.

    Why?

    Because people are still being randomly attacked on the streets of London and other places.

    Then there is the organised hate crime, the gay-free zone stickers that have gone up in various places. The recent attempts by EDL to recruit LGBT activists to their cause and organise a gay march through Tower Hamlets. The links that exist between extremist propaganda that helps create some of the tensions between our communities, and encourages people like David Copeland and Anders Behring Breivk to carry out their horrific attacks. We need to be aware of and deter those who seek to stir up these tensions for their own ends.

    Conflicting reports say that hate crime is rising again and there is this big debate over whether or not this is because some people are more confident reporting, or whether the problem is actually getting worse. Regardless of this debate, we believe more positive action is required.

    So what do you want people to do?

    We want people to be calmly vigilant, to be safe, to be aware of the dangers and to make sure that they flag things up when they see things that cause concern. This could be directly to the police using the new non-emergency number 101, or via the various other organisations that exist to help like Stop Hate Uk 0800-138-1625.

    We also want people to be aware that these services need our backing, especially in the current financial climate. There is so much we can do to help signpost and support them and at the same time strengthen our own communities.

    And we want to encourage people to talk, to connect with each other and build more positive relationships so we can accept or set aside our differences and work together to resolve some of the issues that lead to tensions between us.

    How can people find out more?

    People can take a look at our website www.17-24-30.com for more information. This year we have set up two WordPress sites 172430notohatecrime and hatecrimevigils and it is also possible to follow us on Facebook 17-24-30 and Twitter #HateCrimeVigils.

      Note to Editors

    The Hate Vigil in Reading is being coordinated by community campaigner, Jamie Wake, for 17-24-30.

    17-24-30 represents the dates that the three London nail bombs were planted, 17th April – Brixton Market, Brixton, 24th April – Brick Lane and the 30th April – the Admiral Duncan, Soho.

    In April 1999 David Copeland set out to attack the Black, Asian and Gay communities of Brixton, Brick Lane and Soho hoping that it would create a climate of fear which would eventually lead to the election of the BNP. Over the course of three weeks he planted three nail bombs which killed three people and injured many more.

    Luckily he was caught and his plan failed, but his acts of hatred remind us that there will always be those out there who seek to attack and harm us so we need to remain vigilant and work together to protect and strengthen our communities.

    17-24-30 believes that it is important to bring people together.

    The gatherings are important to those of us who have been affected by the attacks, they bring our local communities together, and provide us, our families and friends – with the support and opportunity to gather and remember our loved ones. They also enable us to engage with old friends and newcomers as well, drawing comfort from each other and being able to exchange our experiences, thoughts and feelings.

    They also provide an opportunity for our communities to raise awareness and reflect upon what has happened, so we can educate the next generation and ensure that we reduce the chances of this happening again.

    17-24-30 believes that it is important to remember those we’ve lost, and those still with us.

    Three people were killed and more than 130 injured during Copeland’s three bomb attacks, however the impact of these horrific events rippled across our communities affecting many people who lived, worked or socialised in these areas, those who were connected to those caught up in the attacks, and those who saw the aftermath of these events in the media.

    At least 48 people were injured when the first device exploded in the crowded Brixton Market. Among those taken to hospital was a 23-month-old baby with a nail in his head.

    A week later, 13 people were injured when the second bomb exploded in Brick Lane.

    The most serious attack took place in Soho. A pipe bomb containing 1,500 nails exploded in the crowded Admiral Duncan pub. Three friends Andrea Dykes 27, John Light 32 and Nick Moore, 31 died in the blast and more than 70 were injured.

    Please help us publicise this event so Reading can add its voice to the campaign and say NO TO HATE CRIME.

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    October 19th, 2011jamiewakerdgcommunity, kennet island, local, park, st james

    Today I met with the Area Team Leader for the Youth Engagement Service Reading Borough Council, South and East Reading to discuss how we can provide a service for the young people that live on Kennet Island.

    Whilst the development is being built, there are very few facilities for children on the island leaving them no option but to play in the roads or on piazza which pose risks to the children. A play park was installed for young children but with the absence of green space or a park (the two green areas are too small for older children to plan in) until the next phase is completed, the alternative is to utilise areas away from the island.

    When I was chair of the Kennet Island Residents Association, we envisaged this being a problem. Since then, a number of parents have approached me to share their concerns.

    I can confirm that today’s meeting was very successful and we can have access to a Youth Worker on Monday Evenings providing we can source volunteers to support the running of a service. We also envisage an after school club on a Wednesday. I will be providing further details shortly. Volunteers will receive full training and can work towards an NVQ 2 but will require an Enhanced CRB which Reading Borough Council will fund. Please contact me if you would like to volunteer.

    Understandably, a Youth Club needs a venue and I have approached ST James for access to the meeting room.

    I hope to be able to provide more detailed information shortly.

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    I have just got home from the Annual Kennet Island Fun Day and I can honestly say that the day was a roaring success.  The day is a community day in the purest sense of the word and is organised by a small but hardworking residents association that I once had the privilege of chairing before deciding to stand in Whitley as a Local Councillor.

    Jamie Wake manning a stall at the Kennet Island Fun Day

    Jamie Wake manning a stall at the Kennet Island Fun Day

    Being a resident of Kennet Island, Elections came secondary to me today.  When I wrote the constitution for the Kennet Island Residents Association that became adopted by the officers, I ensured that the association remains impartial politically.  Today I was just a resident who had a stall that represented his Travel Agency.  The Labour Candidate, Kelly Edwards, was on site and I got to meet her with Mike Orton and Rachel Eden.  Understandably, I could only make small talk as today was about the Kennet Island Community – not politics or the elections – and besides, I had a stall to run!

    As well as stalls, there was entertainment for the children and a fancy dress competition.  There was also a raffle and me and my partner both won prizes.  I won a set of wine goblets and my partner won 2 return train tickets on First Great Western to anywhere between Reading and Penzance.  I chose not to talk about the elections with residents when approached as I wanted to enjoy the day with the community.

    Then again, Local Politics is all about the community and I am standing to serve that very community in Whitley.   I think it’s telling that I am the only candidate in this election that actually lives in Whitley and I think all political parties should really take localism on board when selecting candidates.  At the end of the day, who else would understand the area except the people that live there?

    One of the things that we’re reminded of at the Fun Day is the growing number of Children on the development and lack of amenities for them.  KIRA Kids Club did well to get the play area installed earlier and having spoken to the technical manager at St James, the park and Boules Green are set to open Mid August.  With the addition of the reopening of the cafe as the Island Lounge (and applying for an alcohol license), that means all parts of the community are starting to be catered for.  So, on the island we currently have:

    • Cafe / Bistro
    • Hair Salon
    • Convenience Store
    • A Meeting Room
    • 2 Gyms (one on piazza and one in the Hilton)
    • A bar (in the Hilton)
    • A Restaurant (in the Hilton)
    • A Hotel
    • Kids Club
    • A Travel Agency

    Soon we’ll have:

    • A Pharmacy
    • A Hospital
    • A Play Area
    • A Park
    • A Boules Green

    Then think of all the people who are self employed from home who can also provide services!  Photographers, Graphic Designers, Web Designers, Recruitment Consultants – to name just a few that I know of.

    Kennet Island is a thriving community within Whitley and I’m proud and privileged to live here and I’m proud to stand here as a candidate in the local elections.  As my partner said yesterday – Local Issues = a local candidate and as many people in Whitley have told me, they agree and I agree with them too.

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    April 30th, 2011jamiewakerdgcommunity, honesty, jamie wake, local, local candidate, reading, whitley

    Having just been out delivering leaflets about my standing in the election in my ward (Whitley), I’m continually amazed by the positive reactions I’ve been getting from residents. 

    I was under no illusion as to how difficult the whole process of standing would be and the attention it would draw but I believe it will all be worth it!  Having people wish me luck on the street has motivated me at every step and I believe residents care because I’m local.

    One of the things that many people have found it difficult to grasp is that I have a different approach to politics and quite frankly, I don’t blame them!  I have vowed to never waste time criticising other parties as that’s valuable time that can be used in solving our problems.  Of course, there will be times when I may have to defend myself and only recently I have been attacked for having been an actor!  Even today a resident has informed me that there is also a leaflet circulating in Whitley about me but I am yet to see it.  Of course, if it is found to be of an unacceptable nature, it will be handed over to the appropriate people.

    Whilst delivering by Swallowfield Drive, I got chatting to a few people who were fixing a car.  These guys apparently never vote because all politicians are the same.  The opinion that they had is that all they do is argue between themselves and forget about the people at the bottom.  I could see where they were coming from as I felt the same until a few years ago.  Handing them my leaflet, I assured them that I was different and shared the same issues that they did.  Whilst they told me that they wouldn’t promise to vote, they wished me luck and I left them to tinker with their vehicle.

    Another resident told a similar story and thanked me for standing but was bemused that I wouldn’t be critical of other parties! She asked me about the national debt and I said to her the same answer I say to everyone!  There is a huge debt and we’re way past playing the blame game when we can all work together to solve the problem. Laughing she agreed with me that I was different and I left her to get on with her day. 

    I believe that I can make a difference in Whitley – and It’s reassuring when residents tell me that they believe I can too.  Even the Kennet Island Management Company, Hallmark, wished me luck in their newsletter last week which bowled me over!  We”re in the final few days now where you have the opportunity to make that difference in Whitley so when you look at the names of the candidates standing on Thursday’s elections, ask yourself the following questions:

    • Which candidate actually lives in Whitley?
    • Which candidate is actually going to spend their time representing their community rather than being critical of other people?
    • Which candidate wants to deliver a difference to all members of the Whitley Community?

    I’m proud to be standing in Whitley and I’m proud to be the answer to each of those three questions.  It’s our Whitley – don’t lose your voice – use your vote!

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    Jamie Wake Pledging Support to Lorna McArdle from Reading Pride - eliminating discrimination

    Jamie Wake pledging support to Reading Pride

    I was privileged to attend the Reading Pride Burlesque Fundraiser last night which took place at the Granby.  The club transformed itself for the night allowing the Reading Pride organisers to literally take the club over for an evening!  Even though I got outfit suggestions on Facebook and Twitter, the heat finally prevented me dressing up in a tail coat and I opted for the garish trousers I could find and yet I still seemed under-dressed!

    For me, whenever I think of Reading Pride, I can’t help but reminisce over the years I spent on it’s committee.  Not many people know that I one of the founders of the festival with Lorna, Selwyn and Laurence.  I guess that’s because as the face of Reading Pride for the first two years, my alter ego’s name was used to promote the festival throughout the town.  With that history, you can’t help but feel that their is an invisible attachment that keeps you attached!  Even now, I can still recall walking out on to the main stage to host it for the whole day on September 4th 2004 where I was gobsmacked by the number of people including families with children there to greet me and the acts we had booked.  It’s a WOW feeling that I don’t think will ever go.  Running a pride festival is not about receiving an award (although all but one of the founders have – wink wink lol) it’s about seeing the way people attending are relaxing and being able to be themselves.

    One of the things any Pride goer is normally asked is ‘why do we still need pride festivals?’ I’m sorry to say that homophobia, like many other forms of discrimination, is still not eliminated from society.  Events such as the Reading Pride Festival work towards educating the general public and what is great to see, is the number of heterosexual people that come to Reading Pride that want to see an end to discrimination too.  Even now, many people would not feel comfortable holding their partners hand in the street and I see it regularly in social care where older people worry about being disciminated against for not being a husband or wife. 

    Last night I pledged my support to Reading Pride to stamp out discrimination and chatted to the chair of pride, Lorna McArdle, about ways in which I can support.  We taked about discrimination in all it’s forms and I’m reminded that only recently, I have faced discrimination myself.

    Homophobia is a hate crime and should be reported to the police and Thames Valley Police is committed to tacking homophobia and Sexual Orientation is one of their ‘six strands of diversity’.  In our ‘Six to Fix’ in Reading we’re working on cutting crime in Reading

    • We will work with local Police teams, Neighbourhood Action Groups and residents to keep cutting crime in our neighbourhoods.
    • We will invest in the voluntary and community sector to build capable communities.