Sheffield MP says sharing devastating miscarriage news shows ‘human side’ of politicians

A Sheffield MP believes sharing her experience of going through a miscarriage during the pandemic has helped show the human side of politicians.

Friday, 4th December 2020, 12:34 pm

Olivia Blake, who represents Sheffield Hallam, revealed she made a spur-of-the-moment decision in a Parliamentary debate on baby loss last month to talk about her personal tragedy in August.

She said: “I wasn't planning at all to talk about my own experience. If I had planned in advance I wouldn't have made it to the debate.

“I went along thinking I could just sit there, but then hearing the harrowing and really tragic stories of my colleagues I felt like I really needed to talk about my own experience. I changed my speech in the room quickly. If I had prepared it, it would have been a lot harder.”

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Olivia Blake, MP for Sheffield Hallam.

A ban on visiting patients or accompanying them to hospital appointments because of coronavirus meant Ms Blake had to relay the news to her partner, who had been waiting in the car.

Since the debate she has been contacted by other families who have been through a similar experience – and is replying to them all.

Ms Blake added: “It's allowed some people to see we're human and this stuff does happen to us.

"That's important for people to know their representatives get what they are going through. People are beginning to realise we’re human and that can only be a good thing.”

The former deputy leader of Sheffield City Council was elected as an MP in December 2019 after replacing Jared O’Mara as the Labour candidate for the seat.

Ms Blake said: “Sheffield Hallam came up and I thought the Labour Party owed it to have someone with more political experience to go for it.”

A big part of her campaign – and an ongoing process - was rebuilding trust among constituents following the controversy of the previous two years, she said.

"It was an issue that came up on the doorstep," Ms Blake admitted.

"I was really conscious I didn’t want to make the situation worse for Jared because I was very concerned for his mental health and wellbeing.”

She added: "There was a sense that Labour had let people down. I did have to prove my ability and strategy. I was having those conversations not once, twice but three times.”