An old picture of women celebrating women's right to vote

Votes for Women! The journey to ‘one person one vote’

2018 is a good year for celebrating some landmarks in our shared history; 100 years since women ‘won’ the right to vote*, and 70 years since the setting up of the National Health Service (NHS).

What has this to do with my role as a Welcomer you might want to ask and why am I writing about it here?

You could say that having the right to vote means having a voice, being listened to, and having your life counted and respected. These are all things we try to value as Welcomers in our work with people.  Right now, today, many people for all sorts of reasons find it difficult to have their voice heard, to feel that their lives count, or feel valued or listened to.

Suffragettes demonstrating for the vote for women in 1906

Can we draw on the past and learn from those Suffragettes? How did women 100 years ago win the vote?  What can we learn? We know that it took time and it was a long road. It could not have happened without women all over the country working together, supporting each other, and getting the support of men who could vote and those who still couldn’t. Together with compassion for those who were powerless, and by talking and listening, laughing and crying, making a noise, shouting and discussing, eventually it became impossible for inequality to be ignored.

Although most of us in the UK have the right to vote today, feeling invisible and not counted is still an issue for some of us. Our challenge as Welcomers is to always keep in mind that the power for change lies within each person we are working with, and to draw on the compassion and the belief in others, shown by those early campaigners.

* (full equality happened in 1928 when all women and men aged 21 finally all had the right to vote)

Feel inspired? Join in:

More pictures of the commemorative march here: