Sojan Joseph: Mental health nurse from Kerala and now UK's new MP

Sojan Joseph
Sojan Joseph

London | Sojan Joseph, a mental health nurse in the National Health Service who migrated from Kerala 22 years ago, is among the new crop of Labour members of Parliament elected to the House of Commons in the UK general election.

Joseph, 49, connected with the voters at the doorstep with his pledge to ensure more mental health services in his constituency and succeeded in making a dent in the Conservative stronghold of Ashford in Kent, south-eastern England.

In defeating Tory stalwart and former minister Damian Green in the general election held on July 4, Joseph also dealt a blow to the anti-immigration rhetoric of the right-wing candidates in a seat where the far-right Reform UK came in third place after the Tories.

“I am humbled with the trust you all placed in me and fully aware of the responsibilities that come with it. I will work hard for everyone in Ashford, Hawkinge and villages,” said Joseph in his acceptance speech on Friday.

Being a local councillor and a BAME (black, Asian and minority ethnic) Officer would have prepared the medical professional for this new parliamentary challenge. But it is his over two-decades-long National Health Service (NHS) career as a mental health nurse that he feels gives him the empathy required for his new job in the House of Commons.

Also, his connection with the local communities of Ashford, where he has been living with his wife and three children for over 15 years, is his additional motivation.

“I take great pride in calling Ashford, and Willesborough, my home. I have taken part in a number of fundraising activities over the years, including running marathons for various charities and a dragon boat race for the local hospital charity,” said Joseph, who has undertaken several international marathons for charity.

“I firmly believe in an inclusive society that works towards achieving the full potential for every individual in the community,” he adds.

Joseph hails from Kaipuzha, a small village in Kottayam district. He went to school in Kottayam and completed his nursing studies in Bengaluru. In the UK, he studied for a Master’s degree in healthcare leadership, focusing on diversity and inclusion in public healthcare.

Many voters described him as extremely passionate about improving access to mental and physical healthcare services for everyone on the campaign trail.

When he takes his seat in the Commons, he will be joined by several other first-time Labour MPs of Indian heritage who are reflective of the nationwide swing towards the party after the Keir Starmer-led party won a landslide mandate to form a new government.

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