Real faith in people power and committed to fairness

Kate Linnegar, secretary of the Swindon People’s Assembly. Picture: ALEX SKENNERTON

Kate Linnegar, secretary of the Swindon People’s Assembly. Picture: ALEX SKENNERTON Buy this photo

First published in News by

SOME people rush into activism at the first opportunity, but Kate Linnegar isn’t one of them.

“I didn’t want to do it,” she said. “I did not want to get involved with this. Really.

“I could think of much better and more fun things to be doing on my day off from work than standing in town, waving banners and trying to engage people, to be honest.

“It’s not great fun, especially when it’s freezing cold, but there comes a time when you have to stand up and be counted.

“You cannot look around you and see people being treated in the way that they are in what’s supposed to be a civilised society and say, ‘Well, I don’t agree with it and it’s not very good, but you can’t do anything about it.’ “Some say we can’t change anything, but I believe with people power we can.”

The need for change, she insists, is pressing. Her own friends and acquaintances alone include people obliged to work 12-hour shifts or lose benefits even though one is terminally ill and another seriously disabled.

Then there’s the MS sufferer in her 60s who was recently forced to learn how to use a computer. Her career before the illness struck? Teaching people how to use computers.

Kate was born in Chobham, Surrey. She has two younger brothers, one a carpenter and the other an environmentalist and yoga teacher. The family moved to Swindon when Kate was five, brought here by her father’s job with the old Swindon Council.

Drove Secondary and Commonweal were followed by drama school in Richmond – Kate’s ambition was to be an actress, and she joined Swindon Youth Theatre at 14.

Stints as an exotic dancer in Japan and Belgium brought an Equity card, and Kate later worked in community theatre in London, touring schools.

She also worked as a dresser on Evita and as a demonstrator of products in upmarket London stores. She recalls being told she was an excellent saleswoman, but lacked ruthlessness.

“The thing I demonstrated for longest was the mini vacuum cleaner, which was £4.99 a throw. It was a little hand-held.

“I was quite a good sales person but the problem was that I would get an elderly lady saying, ‘Ooh, that’s wonderful because I can’t use my big Hoover anymore,’ and I just had to be honest and say, ‘The batteries would only last about three square feet of your carpet – please don’t buy it’. I’d rather sleep, comfortable in my bed, knowing I’d sold it to people who actually needed it.”

Kate has had a commitment to fairness for as long as she can remember.

“I think most people are people of principle – I think it’s part of human nature. I’ve had this discussion with people recently because of being involved with the people’s assembly.

“There are so many people who say to me, ‘Greed is human nature; that’s how people are.’ And I say, ‘Well, not most of the people I know.’ “I think I was brought up like that. My parents are very community-minded. My dad worked for local government; he could have worked privately and earned a lot more money. He was very, very much involved in the community.

“My mother did Meals on Wheels. I can remember going and helping her sometimes when I was a little girl.

“They brought us up to believe that it’s not what people earn, it’s not whether you’ve got a big car or a big house or the clothes you wear –1 it’s what you do that makes you who you are.

“And I like being like that. It makes you feel good, your community benefits from it and you live in a better place.”

Marrying and returning to Swindon, Kate worked as a taxi driver, an administrator and in a supermarket while her children were smaller, but then set up her own cleaning business.

“My clients are absolutely fabulous. You almost become part of the family when you clean someone’s house. They share their triumphs and tragedies with you. They invite you to their family things. It’s fantastic, really, and if I say I need time off for something for the children, they’re very supportive.”

At around the beginning of last year, Kate became increasingly appalled by issues such as the bedroom tax and the new way of assessing disability benefits claims. She stopped buying a favourite middle-market tabloid even though she enjoyed some of its features, as she was angered by what she saw as its demonisation of vulnerable people.

Kate then became involved with nationwide organisation the People’s Assembly Against Austerity, and the Swindon People’s Assembly was born from a Facebook post shortly afterwards. It has about 190 members.

It’s an umbrella organisation dedicated to fighting austerity cuts and promoting the NHS, education, affordable housing, a living wage, and environmental consciousness. It believes in taxing banks and major corporations more heavily and ensuring utilities are publicly owned.

Members are drawn from a variety of backgrounds. Kate said: “We’ve got a teacher and a retired lecturer, care workers, a financial advisor, a couple of factory shopfloor workers, a bar manager, a nursery nurse, a retired counter assistant from a chemist’s, musicians, administrators...”

Many people respond to the group supportively, although some are hostile.

Kate said: “I find it quite amusing that being called a ‘do-gooder’ has now become a derogatory description, because actually it’s somebody who’s doing something that they believe in – that they believe is something good.”

The assembly’s web page is thepeoplesassembly.org.uk/swindon_group

Comments (8)

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7:49am Mon 31 Mar 14

Klinkerhoffen says...

Ummmm.... Politically biased people waving placards and shouting 'tory scum' once in a while is NOT a Peoples Assembly is it? Well, not unless 'people' can be defined by less than a dozen mutual back-slappers without any kind of mandate. I'm all for activism and protest, but this lot seem about as credible to me at least as the few who used to wave about copies of Socialist Worker in the 1980s: ie, very ready to complain about cuts but very short on the detail as to how the rest of us are supposed to pay for the alternative.
Ummmm.... Politically biased people waving placards and shouting 'tory scum' once in a while is NOT a Peoples Assembly is it? Well, not unless 'people' can be defined by less than a dozen mutual back-slappers without any kind of mandate. I'm all for activism and protest, but this lot seem about as credible to me at least as the few who used to wave about copies of Socialist Worker in the 1980s: ie, very ready to complain about cuts but very short on the detail as to how the rest of us are supposed to pay for the alternative. Klinkerhoffen
  • Score: -15

8:06am Mon 31 Mar 14

ChannelX says...

The term 'do-gooder' has become a derogatory term because it applies to people who *think* what they're doing and saying MUST be good - regardless of whether it is or not.

The road to hell is paved with good intentions, and - as must people quickly discover - no good deed goes unpunished.

'Doing good' means different things to different people. Unfortunately, some people, usually those on the left, such as Ms Linnegar, think that they have a monopoly on what's good, that they can't possibly be wrong and that everyone else definitely is wrong.

Plenty of people *thought* they were fighting the good fight and 'doing good', just ask Hitler. It certainly doesn't automatically mean they're 'doing good'.
The term 'do-gooder' has become a derogatory term because it applies to people who *think* what they're doing and saying MUST be good - regardless of whether it is or not. The road to hell is paved with good intentions, and - as must people quickly discover - no good deed goes unpunished. 'Doing good' means different things to different people. Unfortunately, some people, usually those on the left, such as Ms Linnegar, think that they have a monopoly on what's good, that they can't possibly be wrong and that everyone else definitely is wrong. Plenty of people *thought* they were fighting the good fight and 'doing good', just ask Hitler. It certainly doesn't automatically mean they're 'doing good'. ChannelX
  • Score: -15

8:17am Mon 31 Mar 14

house on the hill says...

Klinkerhoffen wrote:
Ummmm.... Politically biased people waving placards and shouting 'tory scum' once in a while is NOT a Peoples Assembly is it? Well, not unless 'people' can be defined by less than a dozen mutual back-slappers without any kind of mandate. I'm all for activism and protest, but this lot seem about as credible to me at least as the few who used to wave about copies of Socialist Worker in the 1980s: ie, very ready to complain about cuts but very short on the detail as to how the rest of us are supposed to pay for the alternative.
Absolutely spot on. So many come up this "caring" idea, but never how they are going to pay for it. We already have a country where more than half the population take more from the state than they contribute, or in other words living of other people, something that clearly cannot continue and nor should it. If you want something in life go out and earn it and stop expecting others to fund your lifestyle and relationship choices.

She says greed is human nature, but even more so is jealousy which infests this country. If someone has more than you there will generally be a good reason why. Ok so the world isn't fair but expecting others to pick up the pieces of your problems is hardly fair either!
[quote][p][bold]Klinkerhoffen[/bold] wrote: Ummmm.... Politically biased people waving placards and shouting 'tory scum' once in a while is NOT a Peoples Assembly is it? Well, not unless 'people' can be defined by less than a dozen mutual back-slappers without any kind of mandate. I'm all for activism and protest, but this lot seem about as credible to me at least as the few who used to wave about copies of Socialist Worker in the 1980s: ie, very ready to complain about cuts but very short on the detail as to how the rest of us are supposed to pay for the alternative.[/p][/quote]Absolutely spot on. So many come up this "caring" idea, but never how they are going to pay for it. We already have a country where more than half the population take more from the state than they contribute, or in other words living of other people, something that clearly cannot continue and nor should it. If you want something in life go out and earn it and stop expecting others to fund your lifestyle and relationship choices. She says greed is human nature, but even more so is jealousy which infests this country. If someone has more than you there will generally be a good reason why. Ok so the world isn't fair but expecting others to pick up the pieces of your problems is hardly fair either! house on the hill
  • Score: -14

9:09am Mon 31 Mar 14

scottwichall says...

What on earth have I just wasted a minute of my life reading?
What on earth have I just wasted a minute of my life reading? scottwichall
  • Score: -4

11:05am Mon 31 Mar 14

ChannelX says...

The Adver does seem to be giving a disproportionate amount of column space over to the self-proclaimed, 'Swindon People’s Assembly'.

Especially as it appears to consist of a few disgruntles Labour types, a couple of pensioners, a few unemployed and any of their children that they can persuade to turn up for photo ops.


It believes in taxing banks and major corporations more heavily


All of which will have the end result of only one thing: even higher prices for all goods and services which will, inevitably, hit the least well off the hardest.

Why do these people NEVER think things through?
The Adver does seem to be giving a disproportionate amount of column space over to the self-proclaimed, 'Swindon People’s Assembly'. Especially as it appears to consist of a few disgruntles Labour types, a couple of pensioners, a few unemployed and any of their children that they can persuade to turn up for photo ops. [quote] It believes in taxing banks and major corporations more heavily [/quote] All of which will have the end result of only one thing: even higher prices for all goods and services which will, inevitably, hit the least well off the hardest. Why do these people NEVER think things through? ChannelX
  • Score: -12

1:28pm Mon 31 Mar 14

house on the hill says...

ChannelX wrote:
The Adver does seem to be giving a disproportionate amount of column space over to the self-proclaimed, 'Swindon People’s Assembly'.

Especially as it appears to consist of a few disgruntles Labour types, a couple of pensioners, a few unemployed and any of their children that they can persuade to turn up for photo ops.


It believes in taxing banks and major corporations more heavily


All of which will have the end result of only one thing: even higher prices for all goods and services which will, inevitably, hit the least well off the hardest.

Why do these people NEVER think things through?
As I said in a previous post its about jealousy. They have loads of money so give me some for doing absolutely nothing in addition to deserve it! what's next, tax Footballers more heavily or other "celebrities" who probably spend more on drink and drugs and "partying" that the average person earns in a lifetime.

but yes agree, hitting banks and big businesses with higher taxes will just result in higher prices or more redundancies of the company base moving overseas or all 3 which will actually hurt the country overall more than it helps! Complete short sighted idiots.
[quote][p][bold]ChannelX[/bold] wrote: The Adver does seem to be giving a disproportionate amount of column space over to the self-proclaimed, 'Swindon People’s Assembly'. Especially as it appears to consist of a few disgruntles Labour types, a couple of pensioners, a few unemployed and any of their children that they can persuade to turn up for photo ops. [quote] It believes in taxing banks and major corporations more heavily [/quote] All of which will have the end result of only one thing: even higher prices for all goods and services which will, inevitably, hit the least well off the hardest. Why do these people NEVER think things through?[/p][/quote]As I said in a previous post its about jealousy. They have loads of money so give me some for doing absolutely nothing in addition to deserve it! what's next, tax Footballers more heavily or other "celebrities" who probably spend more on drink and drugs and "partying" that the average person earns in a lifetime. but yes agree, hitting banks and big businesses with higher taxes will just result in higher prices or more redundancies of the company base moving overseas or all 3 which will actually hurt the country overall more than it helps! Complete short sighted idiots. house on the hill
  • Score: -11

2:52pm Mon 31 Mar 14

madreeves says...

Ok, so she was so appalled by the way people are treated so she stopped buying a newspaper and stuck something on Facebook. And she loves being a cleaner. Have I missed something from this article?
Ok, so she was so appalled by the way people are treated so she stopped buying a newspaper and stuck something on Facebook. And she loves being a cleaner. Have I missed something from this article? madreeves
  • Score: -5

7:36pm Mon 31 Mar 14

angelgrace says...

Klinkerhoffen wrote:
Ummmm.... Politically biased people waving placards and shouting 'tory scum' once in a while is NOT a Peoples Assembly is it? Well, not unless 'people' can be defined by less than a dozen mutual back-slappers without any kind of mandate. I'm all for activism and protest, but this lot seem about as credible to me at least as the few who used to wave about copies of Socialist Worker in the 1980s: ie, very ready to complain about cuts but very short on the detail as to how the rest of us are supposed to pay for the alternative.
Well done Kate for bringing Peoples Assembly into Swindon! Just hope that the usual criticism from the regular Advertiser On-line commenter's are not too rude as they have been. People should not be starving, or homeless today. Empathy seems to be lacking today in people, and this is an awful shame. This Government are meant to work for the people and protect them, and they seem to be losing the plot with looking after the Extreme wealthy Corporations and Bankers and themselves taking from the tax payers purse! NHS is getting destroyed by this Government to. Build people up, and not half starve them!
[quote][p][bold]Klinkerhoffen[/bold] wrote: Ummmm.... Politically biased people waving placards and shouting 'tory scum' once in a while is NOT a Peoples Assembly is it? Well, not unless 'people' can be defined by less than a dozen mutual back-slappers without any kind of mandate. I'm all for activism and protest, but this lot seem about as credible to me at least as the few who used to wave about copies of Socialist Worker in the 1980s: ie, very ready to complain about cuts but very short on the detail as to how the rest of us are supposed to pay for the alternative.[/p][/quote]Well done Kate for bringing Peoples Assembly into Swindon! Just hope that the usual criticism from the regular Advertiser On-line commenter's are not too rude as they have been. People should not be starving, or homeless today. Empathy seems to be lacking today in people, and this is an awful shame. This Government are meant to work for the people and protect them, and they seem to be losing the plot with looking after the Extreme wealthy Corporations and Bankers and themselves taking from the tax payers purse! NHS is getting destroyed by this Government to. Build people up, and not half starve them! angelgrace
  • Score: 7

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