Final year Man Met student standing for election as Labour councillor in Stalybridge
- Politics student at MMU running for Labour while completing last year of university
- Sam Gosling balances university and family life with canvassing in Stalybridge North
- Frantic round of hustings and knocking on doors before election on 3 May
Just three years ago Man Met student Sam Gosling would not leave the house because of panic attacks and anxiety. Next week he is hoping to be elected as a Labour councillor in Stalybridge and spends most nights out canvassing.
Sam joined the Labour Party as a member in 2015 in the wake of the general election win by the Conservatives and after a chance meeting with the wife of Stalybridge Labour MP, Jonathan Reynolds.
He met her at his son’s school and was urged by her to get involved in local party politics.
Sam said: “At that time I was quite a mess to be honest. In 2015 I had crippling anxiety and panic attacks - I barely left the house.
"My son in 2010, at three months old, had a cardiac arrest and was in hospital for six months with kidney problems, so that by the time he came out my anxiety levels had gone through the roof and I was having panic attacks.
"After being encouraged by my local MP and his wife to come out with them and get more involved, a lot changed for me.
“If you’d have told me at that time that I’d be knocking on strangers’ doors and canvassing, I would have said not a chance, but doing that gave me confidence. It saved me to do what I’m doing today.”
With two children under the age of 10 (Xavier, eight, and Sebastian, four), life with his partner Francesca is hectic. Juggling his private life with an undergraduate politics degree at Man Met, and running as the Labour candidate for Tameside’s Stalybridge North ward is no easy task.
“A lot has happened since. I’ve been selected for this seat for over a year now and other than this election, we’ve had a couple of by-elections in Droylsden, and the general election," he said.
"It’s been a case of going out every night and canvassing. It’s not just about when there’s an election, canvassing is all year round. I just want people to get involved in politics and vote, that’s it. It affects all of our futures.
“The reason why I want to become a councillor is to be somebody that residents can call and talk to.
"I want to be somebody that can represent them. I want to be a medium between the council and the residents. If you vote Labour or not, that makes no difference to me. I just want to be able to be able to sort out residents’ local issues.
There was a woman the other day, who said she’d never ever vote Labour, and she had an issue with street lamps. So I phoned the relevant people and got it sorted for her. Of course, I want to be voted for, but it’s not just about that. I want to be somebody people can turn to for help
Speaking on what people think of what he’s been doing, Sam said: “Everyone’s remarks have been about how great my campaigning is.”
“My friend asked me the other day, 'should we book a table for a curry on the night of the election results?'. I said, 'of course, but if I lose you won’t see me for months'. I’m not going out into the centre of Stalybridge if I lost.”
On the day of our interview, he tells me he has two more canvassing sessions, plus a football match to go to for his beloved local team, Stalybridge Celtic FC. I send him off on his merry way, unable to keep him any longer from his busy schedule.