In our #OneDiocese blog this month, Cllr Harry Ives blogs about how his faith prompts him to serve his community on the District Council.
“Three years ago, I took a leap of faith. After much discussion with loved ones and private prayer, I stood for election to the Forest of Dean District Council.
“At the time of my election (May 2019), I was a regular Sunday worshipper and member of my Church Management Committee. I was also both a ‘Foundation’ School Governor (responsible for maintaining my school’s Christian ethos) and a Town Councillor. I was steeped in my community and cared deeply for its well-being. Despite this, I remained very unsure about whether to stand for the District Council. Would I still have time for loved ones? Would I still have time for my day job?
“My faith was key here. I reminded myself that God has a plan for everyone and if I’m meant to do this, he’ll find a way. Jeremiah 29:11: “For I know the plans I have for you” declares the Lord “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future”. My life choices had so far led me to a position where the community was my life. If I stand and lose, well… God must have other plans for me. So, with my faith as a rock, I stood for election and won!
“This was (and remains) the biggest achievement of my life. As District Councillor for Lydney North Ward, I am accountable to almost 2,000 people on matters ranging from homelessness to environmental issues, planning applications to benefits. People can (and do) contact me about anything and everything.
“Formally, I am summoned to six meetings of the Full Council a year, along with any committees I’m appointed to and any meetings of my political party. Whilst attending meetings is important, 90 per cent of my time is spent in the community fixing problems for residents. Requests are extremely varied, from fixing maintenance issues (potholes, uneven footpaths, overgrown vegetation, blocked drains, missed bin collections, dog bin requests, signage issues etc) to simply helping someone take their greenhouse down (which I did). My inbox is always busy and any semblance of “free time” is history. Despite being so demanding; I relish this side of the job. Every request is another chance to help someone and if you can physically point to something and say “I fixed that”, you’re doing the job properly.
“Three years later, I am hopefully known as someone who works hard and gets things done. I am warmly welcomed in most places and people who disapprove usually dislike my party, rather than my actions personally. You can never please everyone and once again, my faith is a rock here. Unfair criticisms and attacks are shrugged off. If God hadn’t intended me to serve my community, I wouldn’t be doing this. If my faith hadn’t been there, I may not have stood in the first place.
“There will come a time when I am no longer the District Councillor here and that’s OK. I will thank God for the time he gave me in the role. When that time comes, it’ll be onto the next adventure.”
Councillor Harry Ives (Lydney North Ward, Forest of Dean District Council)