Interview Time – Sept ’19

This month I am interviewing David Gynn, who is our Digital Officer and is much funnier than his title suggests. I am now inspired to go jogging around Alresford when my knee gets better!

Where were you born and where do you live now?

I spent my early life in Dovercourt, grew up in Lawford (although some might suggest that I’m still to grow up!) and have lived in Alresford for the past 20 years.

What is the best thing about where you live?

Alresford is a peaceful village with some great places for walking. Having said that, I never seem to have enough time for walking so more recently I’ve taken to running around its roads and footpaths – a lot!

Alresford creek, in particular, is really quite special and a wonderful place for a wander.

What was your upbringing like? What did you like most about it?

I enjoyed a happy childhood, liked my own company and was influenced by my electrical engineering Dad’s practical approach to things. I’ve made good use of that influence in the telecommunications and internet-related parts of my career, during the DIY renovation of our house in Alresford and in my long-term hobby restoring motorbikes.

What started out as nailing bits of wood together to make go-karts or model ships has proven to be very useful indeed!

You are clearly very committed to the Labour cause. What drew you to Labour in the first place and how old were you at the time?

I’ve always felt that being working class means that we should stand together, look out for each other and fight for what we now call social justice. I can’t remember ever not feeling like that – I guess I must have absorbed left-leaning politics through osmosis while ‘growing up’ in the 1970s – and I instantly developed a loathing for the alternative that arrived in 1979.

I know that you are very involved in the digital side of the Labour party.  In this fast-moving age of digital technology how are you looking to develop this and what can we expect to see in the future?

We’ve developed a strong online presence within the CLP and branches over the last couple of years, and are in a good position to communicate with members and supporters alike. We now need to work on improving the quantity and quality of what we communicate.

To achieve that I’m calling on members with creative skills, both professionals and keen amateurs, to add their names to a CLP Creative Directory – to volunteer a little of their time to help develop the full range of quality content needed for the CLP’s website, social media channels, leaflets, press releases, etc., with the aim of significantly raising the profile of Labour within our constituency so that we can take on the Tories (and others!) to deliver our goal of a better society.

At present we have PM Johnson running the country. If you became one of his special advisors for 10 minutes, what advice would you give him?

I think I’m going to duck that one to avoid incriminating myself should anything unsavoury happen.

When it comes to fighting for justice, what is your biggest personal cause and why?

The cause that I commit most time to is Refugee Action – Colchester CIC, primarily managing their website and communications.

My role with RA-C came about after I met, befriended and provided support to an Iraqi asylum seeker with serious mental health issues.

His story, and the shocking reality that it introduced me to, speaks volumes of the inhumanity meted out to others ‘in our name’ by the Tories.  As he was required to do, my friend claimed asylum immediately when he arrived in Dover in 2001 – and has been stuck in the Home Office’s immigration and asylum processes ever since. That’s 18 years of life spent in complete limbo.

He’s one of a group of people with a status referred to as NRPF (No Recourse to Public Funding) – it’s a status created under the Tories’ ‘Hostile Environment’ with the aim of discouraging people with legitimate rights from seeking sanctuary in the UK. NRPF people have no access to benefits, are not allowed to work, are not allowed to rent property, are expected to live on the kindness of strangers, and often live on the streets with the threat of detention and/or deportation at any time.

We started to understand the full horror of life as an NRPF person but we thought it unlikely that we’d meet any more people in such dire straits locally. Refugee Action – Colchester has since worked with 20 more people with a similar status in Colchester alone, achieving positive outcomes for 5 of those people – because the truth is that while many people are legitimately eligible for support and/or settled status, another aspect of the ‘Hostile Environment’ makes sure that gaining access to such things is made as difficult as possible.

I should also say that working with refugees and asylum seekers has not only introduced me to some truly inspiring people, but also to some really delicious food!

My last question is ‘What do you like most about being a member of the Labour Party?’

Above all, I enjoy belonging to a family of people who share similar values – people who are prepared to work towards seeing those values realised for the benefit of all.