A self-described ‘social entrepreneur’, Samuel Kasumu, has already worked at Westminster, had a 10-year long political presence and founded a youth development charity.
The 29-year-old Christian is now running for MP in Croydon North and believes that despite his relative youth he has the abilities, knowledge and standards to be successful.
Kasumu began his political career while studying accounting and finance at Brunel University in Uxbridge, later serving as a Community Engagement Advisory board member for the London 2012 Olympics.
Kasumu explained to Eastlondonlines how his charity Elevation Networks, which connects young people to employment opportunities, was founded: “It was a time when many of my friends were struggling to get jobs and internships.
“We as students came together to find ways to impact our community and that philosophy has stuck with me ever since. I firmly believe that if you see a challenge or an issue, you should be the change that you wish to see in the world.
“I think that my own personal politics is driven by the idea that you must play an active role in developing and changing your community and not rely solely on the State.
“I think there are a lot of people, particularly people of faith, but also entrepreneurs, who want the government to either step out of the way or enable them to make a difference for themselves.”
A supporter of Brexit, Kasumu grew up in North London. “My top three areas of focus for Croydon North,” he said, “are tackling the growing crime epidemic, ensuring enough good school places for our growing young population and creating affordable houses in the constituency.”
In terms of tackling crime in the constituency, Kasumu believes that community groups are at the heart of the solution: “I think the first thing that is absolutely clear is that current levels of crime are unacceptable and urgent action needs to be taken.
“I feel the main thing that needs to be done is engagement with groups that have the potential to tackle the issue. In particular, faith communities because they can be both a safe space for young people who need a place to socialise but they can also be a place for role models and father figures.
“So the first thing I will be doing is seeing how we can better engage faith communities. I also think the police need to be better engaged with these groups so we will have a review of what they are currently doing.”
Kasumu plans to work closely with Housing Minister Gavin Barwell if he is elected: “Ultimately, housing is a national issue that goes back to before many of us were even born, when the limit of how many houses were being built began, so I feel we need to do more in the long term.
“In the short term we can encourage people to use more government schemes like Help To Buy, shared ownership and also encourage housing associations to build more. Also community land trusts are a new big thing in the country, where communities can be given land to build houses at below market rate, so I’ll be doing my bit to encourage Croydon to set up its own community land trust.”
However, Kasumu did not offer any comment on how these two largest policies will be funded.
“As a black minority ethnic candidate, clearly I’m proud of who I am, what makes me who I am and of my ethnic history and heritage, both as a black African, but also as a British person born here,” he said.
“I guess that with many Conservatives, the fear is that when it comes to dealing with issues around diversity, there may be times when people are selected, not because they are the best for the job, but because of the colour of their skin or their gender.
“In my opinion I think that in recent times that fear has been allayed because they’ve been able to meet, see and learn from people who may be from different backgrounds, but certainly who are good enough.
“You’ve got secretaries of state such as Sajid Javid, you’ve got Priti Patel. These are people who are more than qualified to be where they are and as a result I think the party has begun to go on a journey of bridging the gap between communities.”
Addressing his youth compared to the other candidates standing for election in the constituency, Kasumu believes he has the experience, knowledge and skill to win: “I think that if you’re good enough, you will be put forward. And if you have a track record (which I have) of doing things for communities without having to be elected or paid then that demonstrates a commitment to doing the right things.
“I feel that more young people should participate in politics; they should do more across the political divide to encourage more young people to be involved. But ultimately it’s very difficult to demonstrate that you have served and been diligent, and have the character for political office in such a short space of time.
“Some people have done it; there are some people who are 22 who have been activists since the age of 10. So I recognise that you do have to work hard and show that you are loyal and faithful with the little time you have had, which may be why it’s difficult for young people to get elected. But it’s not impossible.”
However, despite his determination and confidence, Kasumu did not set out to run for MP: “Being an MP was not on my list of things to do this year.
“I don’t think I necessarily have to be an MP to achieve things but I think if, or when, I am elected, it will give me a wider platform to do those things I’ve already been doing. My objectives are to keep going and make a difference.
“I think people should vote for me because I represent a fresh face for Croydon,” he said. “A face that people can relate to, a background that people can relate to and I have experiences that people from the area can relate to.
“I understand some of the challenges that people from the area face, I’ve faced them myself and continue to face them to some extent. So in having me as a representative, essentially they can rest assured that they will have a genuine voice in the mother of Parliaments.”