Baroness Glenys Thornton is the current Shadow Spokesperson (Health) for The House of Lords. She grew up in inner-city Bradford, attended a local comprehensive, and then studied politics and government at the London School of Economics, where she is now a Governor. She has previously been a Council member of Oxford Brookes University and served as a communications adviser to successive VCs of Cambridge University.
Glenys has had a career in the voluntary, co-operative and private sectors for over 30 years, starting at Gingerbread, then the Citizens Advice Bureau and leaving them to work as Project Director at the Institute for Community Studies and Mutual Aid Centre from 1978 – 1981. Her job was to test and pilot the social innovation ideas arising out of the research conducted by Michael Young. She left the ICS to become Political Secretary of the Royal Arsenal Co-operative Society, joining the public affairs team of the Co-operative Wholesale Society upon their merger in 1985 and working there until 1992. In 1993 Glenys became the General Secretary of the Fabian Society.
A feminist activist from LSE days, she has worked within the Labour Party to ensure gender balance and has and still does mentor many women seeking public office. More recently Glenys has been supporting women elected to new parliaments in the developing world, Tanzania, Kenya and Myanmar for example. She has been a member of the Co-op since she was 16 years old. Glenys founded what became Social Enterprise UK in 2001 and chaired the organisation until January 2008. She also founded the All Party Parliamentary Group for Social Enterprise. In 2010 she became one of three Patrons of SEUK and in that capacity, Glenys has been active in building what is now the Social Economy. Over the years Glenys has been a Trustee of Action for Children, Jamie Oliver’s 15 Foundation, Training for Life, and of course The Young Foundation. She was a board member of the IdEA, the Local Government Improvement agency from 1999 – 2008.
As a backbench peer, Glenys was involved in charity, social innovation and social enterprise debates for 10 years. It is possible she was the first person to use the term Social Enterprise in Parliament. She helped to put through the Community Interest Company Right to Request legislation and the Social Value Act.
Glenys ran her own communications company from 2001 – 2008, and stood down when she was appointed Health Minister in the House of Lords. She also had responsibility for Women and Equalities in the Lords, and helped to put through the Equality Act of 2010.
In 2010 she became the Shadow Health Minister and in May 2012, Glenys changed jobs and became the Women and Equalities Shadow Minister, and so has worked on Equal Marriage Act, Forced Marriage Act and violence against women legislation.