Alice Smart: My first job? Sweeping the floor

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Alice Smart is Leeds’s youngest city councillor. At the age of 22, she represents the interests of 17,000 people in Armley. JAYNE DAWSON reports.

Alice Smart was elected in May, winning with a majority of more than 700. She is a Leeds University graduate and moved to the city from Manchester to study history.She has just completed a year as education officer for Leeds Student Union.

My first job was in a hairdressers. I was sweeping the floor, you have to graduate to washing hair. Then I worked in Next, starting at sales time and just carrying on. It made me realise that I didn’t care all that much about T-shirts and that I wanted to do something more meaningful.

The best advice I have received so far is to take any chance that comes your way, and I do try to do that. My parents brought me up to think that way, my dad is a nurse and my mum is a teacher.

My guilty pleasure is watching rubbish television. Right now I am hooked on I Wanna Marry Harry.

It’s a bunch of American women who think they are competing to marry Prince Harry but it is actually only a lookalike. I love anything cheesy too, anything by Disney and almost any rom-com.

My pet hate is people who don’t vote. There are a lot of people who have opinions but then they don’t use their right to vote. What is the point? It can be really frustrating meeting people like that.

The person I would most like to meet is JK Rowling. I have read all the books, seen all the films and I was one of those people who queued up outside Waterstones to get the last book the minute it was available.

I don’t like to waste weekends, I like to feel I have done something and been out seeing people. Going out to eat is always a good idea. I have been a vegetarian all my life so it would be pizza or pasta. My parents are vegetarians so I was brought up not eating meat.

My teenage self isn’t that long ago but my advice to myself at school would be to not worry so much about fitting in. . I would buy certain clothes because I thought they would help me to be cool, but I stopped feeling that way when I left school.

I used social media a lot when I was running my student union election campaign and also when I was standing for election to Leeds City Council. I have let my parents be my Facebook friends, but my mum has lost her password.

My philosophy of life is that I believe in fairness, which is why I want to do something where I can make a difference. I need to feel passionately about what I am doing in life which is why I couldn’t have stayed working in retail because I basically didn’t care about what I was doing.

Being involved in the Labour party has given me confidence but with every position I have gone for I have had help and support from other people, who have encouraged me to carry on. I did politics at A-level and then I joined the Labour party with my best friend, and that was it. I want to be a good councillor and I would want to stand again next time, but if I eventually end up doing something else then that’s fine. I’m not sure people should be councillors for decades and decades.

The thing I couldn’t live without is my phone. If I ever set off for a full day without it, I would have to turn round and go back home.

I am always checking it for something, I can look at the Internet on it or if I get lost then I can use Google Maps.

I am clumsy so my embarrassing moments usually involve a random injury on a night out. Although my very first university lecture was pretty embarrassing.

After a while I realised I was listening to somebody talking about a completely different subject to the one I had come to Leeds to study.

I had to walk out in front of hundreds of people and the lecturer made some not very kind comment.

It might surprise people to know that I am an Irish dancer. I had the proper outfit, which is a long-sleeved dress with a big skirt, white socks and dancing shoes or clogs. A lot of the girls also wore curly red wigs, but my mum wouldn’t let me do that.

I had a good childhood, I have two younger brothers and would play out with them and the other kids in the street. I didn’t want to be a nurse or a teacher like my parents, I always wanted to do something different.

My first kiss was at a party at the end of high school so I was about 16. I liked him a bit, but not that much.

My first record was Spice Up Your Life by the Spice Girls when I was about six. I loved them.

I like Leeds because it is so compact, everything is here but it is all reasonably close together, and I like the old arcades.

Flora Mewies of Ward Hadaway

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