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Eighteen mums have been awarded funding to stand as MPs in a bid to tackle the toxic culture in the Commons.

The MotherRED project has issued grants of up to £2,000 to help mums with the cost of standing for selection as Labour MPs – and announces their first group of candidates today.

They include human rights campaigners, council tenants, dedicated local councillors, domestic abuse victim advocates, political refugees and teachers and full time carers.

More than a third are from ethnic minority communities, a third are single parents and several have either disabilities or children with disabilities.

Just under half are from families living on below the mean average income for UK households.

The project identified childcare costs as one of the significant barriers facing mums participation in politics resulting in mums being significantly underrepresented in the current parliament.

Thirty ambassadors, including Zarah Sultana, Bell Riberio-Addy and Shami Chakrabati, Emma Hardy, Sharon Waldron, Jan Royall, Jacqui Smith and Cherie Blair were involved in choosing which of the many applicants would be funded.

Baroness Shami Chakrabati, who helped select the successful candidates said: “The richness and diversity of these brilliant mums has completely vindicated the idea behind this scheme.

“I wish more could have been funded, but all of them bring hope of what a more inclusive Labour Party and Parliament could be.”

MotheRED ambassador Alex Davies-Jones, Labour’s MP for Pontypridd said: “The lack of mums in our politics is not by accident and these eighteen women reflect why it matters- its great to see mums from across the country and every background be given this chance. I hope we can fund even more in future!”

And Labour MP Stella Creasy added: “Changing Westminster means changing who gets to Westminster – selections are expensive and time consuming and if you have caring commitments can be almost impossible to be part of without help.

“MotheRED aims to ensure the talent that is held back by these factors can come forward- each of these candidates represents the difference that could make to our party and our politics.”

SEND IN THE MUMS – the first 18 candidates to receive funding under the initiative

Ex-teacher Samantha Townsend

Ex-teacher Samantha Townsend, one of the first successful candidates to receive a MotheRED grant, is a mum of three children under 12 – two of whom have disabilities.

She said: “The government has gone from bad to worse, from the decimation of sure start to disregarding parliamentary standards – it’s time to send in the mams!”

Nazia Rehman is a councillor and the Executive member for Resources, Finance and transformation in Wigan. She was the first ever ethnic minority Councillor in Wigan and a mother of three children.

Nazia Rehman

She said: “I am really delighted to be selected for MotheRED initiative. I believe this is the start of a broader conversation about vital issue that potentially affect half of the world’s population and think we as a society are ready for that.

“I don’t believe that bringing up children and following your career or dreams should be mutually exclusive, they have to run hand in hand.”

Hannah Bithell

Hannah Bithell is a local councillor in Leeds who has recently adopted two toddlers with her wife.

She said: “We live in a difficult world at the moment, being selected for this grant means I can fight to make it better, not just for my own children but everyone’s.

“It’s hard being a Mum in politics, but what can be done when you make it to the table changes lives, that’s why this sort of project is incredible. What we do now can open doors, and the results will be exponential!’

Here’s the full list of the first 18 MotherRED candidates selected for funding under the initiative:

Nazia Rehman

Nazia is a councillor in Wigan and a proud mother of three. She joined the Labour Party 15 years ago to expand on her voluntary work as a witness to the Police and criminal justice system

Hannah Bithell

Hannah is a local councillor in Leeds and a parent to two toddlers she and her wife recently adopted. She is passionate about strategic change to improve people’s lives.

Samantha Townsend

Samantha is an ex-teacher, mother of three children under 12, two of whom have disabilities. She has experienced first hand the sharp end of austerity.

Bella Sankey

Bella lives on the Sussex coast with her husband and two toddlers. She is an NGO director who has won campaigns for justice for victims of modern-day slavery.

Marie Tidball

Marie is a mother of one from Oxford, born in Barnsley she is a nationally renowned disability rights activist, legal researcher and Labour councillor.

Lisa Banes

Lisa, 42, is a mother of two, council tenant and community worker living in Sheffield whose politics are influenced by her community and by other mothers at the school gates.

Nadine Peatfield

Nadine is currently deputy leader of Derby Labour Group. Nadine has two teenage girls who she hopes are in turn inspired by her passion to enable people in Derby to live their best lives.

Jayne Kirkham

Jayne is a single parent with one child who lives in Cornwall. She is Labour Group leader on Cornwall Council. She worked as a lawyer before becoming a mum, a teaching assistant and a councillor.

Beatrice Stern

Beatrice lives in East London and is mother to two young daughters for whose generation she wants to contribute towards securing a sustainable and equitable future.

Miatta Fahnbulleh

Miatta from London is a mum to three children. She is Chief Executive of the New Economics Foundation and at the forefront of generating new ideas on reshaping our economy.

Rose Bolger

Rosa is a West Oxfordshire Councillor who is a single parent to two children. She was the first woman leader of the now Labour and Co-operative controlled Witney Town Council.

Rachel Blake

Rachel, mother of two, has 15 years experience working in local and national government, and eight years as a local councillor, delivering council homes and standing up for communities.

Sarah Hall

Mum to two young children, Sarah lives in Warrington, where she’s Cabinet member for children’s services, leading on strategy and delivery for education, special educational needs, children’s social care and safeguarding.

Vicky Ashworth

Vicky is a Labour/Co-operative councillor in East London and a proud single mother of three, fighting inequality, supporting those in need and defending communities. She has worked in education and international development.

Evelyn Akoto

Evelyn is a mother of three and is a local councillor in Southwark. She is the cabinet member for Public Health and Wellbeing, and led the borough’s response to Covid-19.

Sally Ashby

Sally is a single mum to three girls. She is a town Councillor in Wales and Director of Learning for Women’s Work Lab, supporting unemployed mums back into employment.

Anna-Joy Rickard

Anna-Joy has served for eight years as a councillor and is a mum of there kids aged seven, three and one. She is an international advisor in foreign policy and international development.

Jill Pidgeon

Jill, 40, lives in Glasgow with her son and has recently been elected to Glasgow City Council. Jill is passionate about improving lives, with healthcare and sustainability being her focus.

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