Transcript of video interview Cllr Sohail Khan, Tettenhall Regis Ward, City of Wolverhampton Council
Why did you become a councillor?
Around 2014 or 15 it was, a friend of mine was a local councillor at the time and he was campaigning for his election. And he asked me to get on board. I was in between jobs at the time and I came and helped him with his campaign and also at that time there was a general election, so I got a bit more involved. I started campaigning and sort of got to know a bit of work that local councillors and MPs do and I liked what I saw. But it was something that I grew into and I understood the importance of what local councillors had done, how they supported the community and other people, and that's how I really got involved - through campaigning, helping somebody by default really.
What does a typical day as a councillor look like for you?
So it's not a 9 to 5 day is what you'd say. You're a 365 day a year councillor. Once you are elected you're elected, you're a councillor whatever you do - whether you have a day job or you don't have a day job. Not every day is the same, some days you might have council meetings, other days you won't. But then there's issues with residents, your constituents, that come on board so you could be dealing with casework, speaking to officers, having meetings. So there's a variety of it, so every day is a different day and not any day is the same.
What is the best thing about being a councillor?
Making a difference in people's lives - so local councillors help with local issues. We have a lot of responsibility - apart from the wider responsibility of the city, we're elected in our wards and sometimes wider people come to you for help and support. And when you're able to help and support them and make that difference in their life it's worth its weight in gold.
What is the most challenging thing about being a councillor?
Frustration - sometimes not being able to get the answers for the residents. Or sometimes wider - maybe for myself, if there's a certain policy or an agenda item that's coming up and I can't make that difference then that personally, it can get a bit frustrating. And going back to my first point, mostly it's about when residents come to you, they come to you because you're their bit of hope in essence. And they've come to you for an issue, and you go and try and resolve it. And when you can't resolve it, sometimes that can be disappointing. But from my point of view, I always try and I try my best so as long as I know I've tried and I've taken it as far as I can and beyond, then that gives me some sort of contentment.
What advice would you give to someone thinking of standing for election?
I'd say go for it. If you've already been selected or you're going to stand as an independent and you've already made that first jump - which is, I think, that's the hardest part - deciding. But I would ask you to get a bit more understanding of what the role entails, what it does. Speak to a councillor, speak to electoral - see if they can offer you some advice. Have an understanding of what you're coming into, because once you have that understanding your role will become so easy - we can over complicate anything we want but if we keep it simple and understand the basics then you'll be absolutely fine. You need to have good people skills, bit of empathy and being able to listen and you'll be fine.
What would you say to someone thinking about becoming a councillor?
Being a councillor is a lifestyle, it's not a job, it's a whole lifestyle - once you're elected you're a councillor you're a city representative. It's a huge honour to represent anywhere especially you know Wolverhampton’s a fantastic city, so you're going to be representing the people overall, you're going to be representing a ward. You'll be solving issues, looking at key decisions that are made within the city. They are the responsibility of a councillor, corporate governance. That's what it is. When somebody comes to you, whether it's a resident, and they have an issue and then you take it on and you solve it for them I mean the satisfaction that it gives you it's unbelievable.
Lastly, what one thing sticks out for you about being a councillor?
Making a difference in people's lives, yeah definitely. That's what it's about. Fundamentally, being elected, getting that title is all well and good - being able to make a difference in people's lives whether it's the young, old whoever they are, it's fantastic, it's unbelievable. It gives you so much satisfaction it's unbelievable.