In May 2022, I sat down at our Welwyn Hatfield Borough Council Annual Meeting.

I sat thinking whether I did the right thing. I sat wondering whether, after a six-year gap, it was the right decision to stand again.

One of the Labour councillors, a really decent guy, said to me: "Michal, you’ve done it before. You really wanted to do it again? You are crazy."

There were a few moments before the meeting, when I was reflecting on sacrifices that many of the councillors have to make.

Welwyn Hatfield Times: Cllr Michal SiewniakCllr Michal Siewniak (Image: Michal Siewniak)

Most of us have to work, full or part-time. There are plenty of evening meetings and our presence at home, or lack of it, will be felt.

In my case, with three school-aged daughters, my conscience was searching for an answer for this question.

The beginning of the meeting was really powerful. The Full Council meeting is the only meeting of the annual calendar which begins with the prayer.

A short prayer, read out at the beginning of the meeting, had such a huge impact on me. I felt once again a "calling" to public life and that I am not alone in fulfilling my duties as a councillor.

Moreover, our prayer reminded me about my most important part of my role as a councillor; being at the service for others.

In that moment, I promised myself that I will do my best not to be passive and complacent but proactive, driven and creative.

A week later, also in May 2022, I was invited to a meeting of Quakers (Religious Society of Friends).

I had an opportunity to work with Quakers before; we’ve organised two events to mark the International Peace Day.

Before the meeting, one of my friends teased me a bit and said: "You can’t be a Quaker; you don’t like silence!"

When I walked into the Quakers Meeting House in Welwyn Garden City, I was invited to take part in a moment of reflection. We were sitting in silence for 45 minutes.

Only one member of the congregation felt compelled to say something. I must admit that I don’t remember when I was last sitting in silence for such a long time. It was simple, and yet so profound and enriching.

For me, it was an opportunity to reflect on my own journey but more importantly, it was a moment, which enabled me to look beyond my town, city, country, or continent.

It was a moment of feeling grateful for what I am. It was so clear to me that because of the pace of life, constant bombardment of information, suffering, poverty, global conflicts, and detachment from the latest news; we rarely have the opportunity TO BE in the moment.

Do we at all question ourselves? I also wondered about my journey and the legacy that I might want to leave behind me.

Last weekend, I attended the Mayor’s Annual Civic Service at Our Lady’s Queen of Apostles in Welwyn Garden City. It was simple but beautiful and moving.

There were songs, hymns and readings. There was a sermon from Canon Norbert Fernandes. There were quite a few people representing various religions as well as current and former Mayors from different parts of the county.

There were moments for reflection and an opportunity to remember the importance of public service. It really was; unity in diversity at its best!

I know that I didn’t have to be elected to visit Quakers or Mayor’s Civic Service. However, being elected gives me additional encouragement to see opportunities to learn, listen and build dialogue with other people.

At Quakers House, after 45-min long reflection, we sat down, had a delicious breakfast and continued to talk; this time about local and global issues.

We talked about democracy, the importance of voting and being part of civic life, in all its shapes and forms. It was an important reminder. Politics is often not about “scoring points” but more about being real, authentic, passionate and genuine.

At Our Lady’s Queen of Apostles Church, after the service, we talked about “trivial stuff”’; weather, football and birthdays.

Although politics, also at the local level, can be challenging, bruising and demanding, I look forward to many more similar meetings, which will help me to grow as a person, fellow human being and which build a real sense of family.