I try to work in ways that match my values. I try to ensure I get the best out of people, by delegating appropriately, and offering opportunities for new and challenging tasks in a way that people feel supported. I try to give time to review what has been done, reflect on what went well, and what the learning points were.
My main passions remain tackling social exclusion and international development. I am passionate about the potential of those who many have given up on, and who have often given up any belief in their own potential. I also feel that as a woman who has had incredible opportunities in my life, it is my responsibility to keep pushing open doors for others, particularly young women.
I was part of a family that was involved in politics (my father was a councillor throughout my childhood and adolescence), and the Methodist Church. I therefore spent time in the public gallery, watching and listening! I then went to Kenya with Volunteer Services Overseas, and taught in one of the few girls residential schools. I did this for two years before coming back to the UK to do a post-graduate social work course in Birmingham and becoming a social worker in the North East of England.
All of this led me to believe that in order to unlock potential in people and their communities, you had to do more than work with individuals. You had to change systems, and a culture that did not recognise that our class system upheld inequality, which stifled initiative and opportunity in too many communities in our country.
The biggest challenge I’ve faced is getting selected to stand as an MP. There were not many women MPs at this time and I think I tried three or four seats before 1982, and then more before I was elected in 1987.
I learned that you had to be methodical, speak and present well, and that however much you did, that was no guarantee of success! I learned I just had to be as good as I possibly could be, and then there was likely to be history and luck involved too. All of that is good experience for working with aspirant young women candidates!
If I was to give my younger self any advice it would be to be more organised and focussed.
I have the confidence to accept the role model nomination, because I believe in the potential of people to continue to learn and grow, and know that I have helped people to do that in the past. I have also learned a lot from doing that.
Parliament remains somewhere that is difficult for those with disabilities. The culture needs more systematic and sympathetic attention. Things are much better than when I arrived, but there is still more to do to make it really inclusive in both class and gender terms.
My role models are my father, Tony Blair, who was always optimistic, some women in the Labour Party in the north east, and women who I got to know in Kenya
Baroness Armstrong's role in Parliament
Baroness Armstrong of Hill Top, formerly Member of Parliament for North West Durham from 1987 to 2010.