My family moved to the Black Country when I was a small child, in the 1970s. My parents were teachers, my Mum teaching French and my Dad teaching children with special needs. It was a Welsh family, with my sister and me the first generation to speak English as a first language. That’s partly why education was so important in our house when I was growing up. Education, more than anything, would give us choices in life.
And my parents also believed that in books we would find kindness. And that was important in our house too. I was brought up to believe that the test of any person is how they treat other people. That we have obligations to one another, to our neighbours, our community. That looking out for the old lady down the street isn’t charity – it’s what it means to be a decent person.
But I was also taught to stand up for myself. That we’re as good as anyone else. That you have to work hard to earn the right to a better life. And I think those are also the values of the West Midlands region I know and love. I’m very proud to be from here. Our region holds an incredibly special place in the world – but all too often we don’t celebrate where we’re from.
Siôn served as MP for Birmingham Erdington from 2001 – 2010, has served as one of two Labour MEPs for the West Midlands since 2014, and was Labour’s candidate for West Midlands Mayor in 2017.