Julie is a Labour and Co-operative Party Member of the European Parliament for the North West of England, covering Cumbria, Lancashire, Merseyside, Cheshire and Greater Manchester. As such she is a member of the European Parliamentary Labour Party and, in turn, part of the second largest group in the European Parliament, the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats.
Julie serves on the Parliament's Culture & Education Committee, the Regional Development Committee and the Committee on Gender Equality and Women's Rights. She is also a member of the the Labour Party's Policy Commission on Education and Children.
First elected in May 2014, Julie previously had a long career in the cultural sector, working with marginalised communities using arts as a tool for wellbeing, empowerment and social change. Prior to being elected as an MEP, Julie had been working with partners in the EU and beyond for more than a decade. For instance, she was involved in an international delegation to Belfast to participate in an all-party discussion about the role of the arts in peace-building processes.
Julie decided to go to university for the first time in 2009 and enrolled on a Masters’ course at Newcastle, studying Education and International Development. This meant learning about economics, human rights and poverty. She graduated in 2012 determined to use her new-found knowledge for the greater good.
Julie has extensive experience of front-line grassroots work, engaging with people from all walks of life as they try to do their best for their families and their communities often in very challenging circumstances.
Contact Julie here.
To find out more about Julie's eventful first year in office, click here for the 2014-2015 Yearbook.
And read her personal message to her constituents below:
Social Justice! Social Justice! Social Justice!
"New occasions teach new duties; Time makes ancient good uncouth;
They must upward still, and onward, who would keep abreast of Truth;
Lo, before us gleam her camp-fires! we ourselves must Pilgrims be,
Launch our Mayflower, and steer boldly through the desperate winter sea,
Nor attempt the Future's portal with the Past's blood-rusted key."
- From 'The Present Crisis' by James Russell Lowell, 1819-1891
As a poet, cultural activist and human rights campaigner, I look for meaning and inspiration in creative expression and chanced upon Lowell's poem which resonates on both a personal and political level. J R Lowell was a writer, diplomat and trouble-maker, someone whose voice helped to bring about the abolition of the slave trade. If I had been living back then I would have joined with Lowell to speak out strongly against injustice and human rights abuses.
I was elected to serve as a member of the European Parliament for the North West of England in May 2014, winning a seat back for Labour, thereby ensuring that the politics of tolerance, inclusion and compassion will be louder and stronger with the BNP out of office. I want you to count on me to always put people and planet first in my everyday work as a policy maker and co-legislator.
This is my first experience of political work, but it is notmy first time as a public figure, standing up for the most vulnerable in society. Over the past year, as I have learnt 'new duties' and taken on the responsibility of representing the people of the north west, I have been committed to operating through the prism of social justice, keeping 'abreast of the truth' or the reality of contemporary life as it is lived by the many not the few. I extend that principle to include the poorest people in other parts of the UK, Europe and around the world, not simply constituents. That is because we lead interconnected lives in a global world and lifting people out of poverty will benefit all of us in the long run. I have been pleased to find out that many others share my values of compassion first and foremost.
Spending time sitting around Lowell's metaphorical 'camp fires' talking to constituents from Crewe to Carlisle is an important part of my job but the geography of the region is extremely challenging! Please don't wait for me to turn up in your neck of the woods. Get in touch, seek me out, lobby me, find me on Facebook and Twitter. Let's have a conversation about the things that bother you, the things that you perceive to be unfair.
The poem's reference to a "desperate winter sea" evokes the terrible scenes we are witnessing being played out in the Mediterranean and elsewhere as increasing numbers of migrants risk life and limb in search of safety and a better life. Sadly this will be an enduring image; history will not judge us kindly unless we begin to act in a more compassionate way, remembering that those less fortunate than ourselves are often innocent victims of others' poor decision-making. We need to look carefully at the reasons for such desperatehuman behaviour. People do not abandon their homes lightly; at the root of many of our European problems lies poverty and reduced life chances. Along with my Socialist & Democratic colleagues in the European Parliament I therefore stand up for a more compassionate approach to those fleeing conflict, oppression and extreme poverty.
Finally, like Lowell, I am wary of the "Past's blood-rusted key". We must NOT unlock the Future by repeating the mistakes of history but use the Past as a reminder of how we must never allow ourselves to be separate and aloof from our neighbours. Instead we must learn to get on with them whether they live next door or in another country. I look forward to serving you as we move forwards in uncertain times.
Julie Ward MEP.