Husband and wife running in May’s elections – while also juggling 10 children
Ted Peskett, local democracy reporter
Trying to juggle your professional life and personal life whilst running an election campaign can be difficult at the best of times.
That is just what husband and wife, Paul and Samantha Chohan, will be doing as they stand for wards in Bridgend County Borough this May – but, there is a difference.
As well as canvassing support and door-knocking, the husband and wife team will be committing part of what little time they have left to parenting 10 children.
Just how would they manage it?
“We are probably the best advertisement for co-parenting that you will ever see,” said Paul, 46.
“I wash clothes, I do dishes, change nappies, and when the circumstance arises Sam goes to work.”
Samantha, also 46, added: “We just have to juggle everything together.
“There is always a meal to cook, there are always clothes to wash, there is always someone who needs something. We just get on with it.”
Samantha, a domiciliary nurse who grew up in Bryncethin, said that two of her and Paul’s eldest children are in their 20s and have left home.
However, looking after 10-year-old Timothy who is a type 1 diabetic requires them to both keep on their toes.
Paul, who grew up in Brynna and is running for the Oldcastle Bridgend County Borough Council (BCBC) ward, said: “Meals have to happen at a particular time, or the consequences with [Timothy] could be quite serious.
“It is rigorous planning and a lot of juggling.
“The skills to juggle and plan – those are a lot of the same skills that will allow us to work together as a team.”
Samantha, who is standing in Bryntirion, Laleston and Merthyr Mawr said she hopes her decision to run in this year’s local government elections can inspire other mothers.
She said: “In a lot of cases it is ‘I will just wait until the little one is old enough and maybe I can get a part-time job in the shop or [in] care work’, as I have done.
“I would like to show them that actually, they can do other things as well and that just because you have had children it doesn’t mean that you are destined for the bottom of the pile.
“You can do something incredible in your community. If politics is something that [you] want to do, then go for it.”
Samantha is not new to politics.
In the 2016 Senedd elections, she stood for Swansea West. Despite being unsuccessful in her efforts, Samantha feels as though she has returned to the game with a more experienced head on her shoulders.
Having had to look after her athritic mother from the age of just 11, Samantha said she hopes she can make a difference in care by using a more direct approach.
“As my mother’s health deteriorated, I had increasing caring responsibilities at home,” said Samantha.
“My schoolwork suffered and sometimes I would be off school because I would be looking after my mother.
“There was no one in school who ever [asked] if I needed a bit of extra help or support.
“To be fair to the school, in the early 90s nobody was looking for young carers, nobody knew what a young carer was.”
Samantha said she performed “badly” in her GCSEs due to her role as a young carer.
She added: “Right in the middle of my GCSEs, my mum went into hospital in Bath because she had an ankle replacement.
“I was juggling her being in Bath, me trying to sit exams and doing revision. It was chaos.
“When she came out of hospital we had to move her bed downstairs, which I had to do with the help of my sister and then brother-in-law.
“The first day she was home I had managed to carry her up the stairs to get her into bed, but the follwing day I couldn’t get her back down the stairs.
“At 16, those are the things that people shouldn’t have to struggle with.”
Further down the line, she decided to take on a degree in Health and Social Care Management.
Having given birth to an eighth child during her second year and being 28 weeks pregnant by the time of her graduation five years ago with a ninth, Samantha completed her degree with a 2:1.
Paul, who has been a carer for his son Timothy and has a background in providing advice for people looking to start up their own business believes he also has a lot to offer through his real life experiences.
He said: “A lot of people can go through life [understanding] their own little patch – they may be successful in business or they may have a profession and they may not see life on the other side, and [there are people] the other way round.
“People in the benefits system, or carers may not fully understand what is going on with professionals or business people, but I have been fortunate to see life from both sides of the scale.
“There is only so much you can do sitting on the sidelines complaining or campaigning. Really, you want to be doing things that make a difference.
“The people who represent us should look something like us. That is a sign of health in a political system.”
Paul and Samantha said family members have been “broadly supportive” of their decision to run for positions in local government.
Despite both running as Conservative members, Paul acknowledged that they will have to be prepared for differences in opinion.
He said: “I don’t think that us being a married couple would necessarily change the way we do our jobs. We would both be professional.
“If there was something we disagreed about I guess we would just have to get on with it and represent our constituents.”
When asked if he could imagine the situation had they decided to run for opposing parties, Paul added: “It could have happened.
“It would have made dinner afterwards a little bit tense, but as with most people you have to strike a balance between your [home] life and your professional life.
“Thankfully, I don’t think we will have that problem. If we can navigate 10 children then we can navigate this.”
Support our Nation today
For the price of a cup of coffee a month you can help us create an independent, not-for-profit, national news service for the people of Wales, by the people of Wales.