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All the best: Clare Bailey on her favourite things

By Kerry McKittrick

Clare Bailey (46) is an MLA for South Belfast and deputy leader of the Northern Ireland Green party. She has two children, Brian (21) and Jude (19). She says:

My best moment

Graduating from university in 2008, despite the fact I'm not one for ceremonies or occasions. I didn't get married and I never had the kids christened. But my degree was a struggle - I had to do my final year part-time because I became homeless. I studied politics at Queen's University, Belfast and my mum and I really enjoyed the day. It was great to be able to show my children that working hard is worth it.

My best song

Firework by Katy Perry. I think it's a really fun song with lots of energy and makes the perfect pop tune. My daughter and I still dance around the house whenever it comes on, and every time I hear it I'm reminded of her.

My best way to relax

By turning off my phone and getting up a mountain to go for a really good walk - the higher you go the more solitude there is. I just love a bit of peace.

My best job

I'm the definition of a jack of all trades having worked in hospitality in London for a couple of years before coming home to a job in retail and an opticians. However, with no hesitation the best job is the one I have now. I can't use the word privileged enough to describe how it feels. From the people you meet to the things you hear and the fact that you're able to effect change is very humbling.

My best advice

Never rule yourself out because life has enough barriers without making your own. When I was homeless I was involved in a lot of focus groups and it was advice gleaned during a chance conversation with someone I didn't know. At the time I was trying to find my family somewhere to live while my daughter was preparing to do her 11-plus and my son had just started secondary school.

My best movie

Hairspray - the new one. I have always loved a good musical and when I was younger was a big fan of Grease; I had the soundtrack on repeat. But when I saw John Travolta as Mama Turnblad I fell in love with Hairspray. It's my go-to movie on a duvet day.

My best gift

Every hand-made Mother's Day card I've been given by my children - I still have them all as well as all the art and things they made me at school.

My best achievement

Being elected MLA for South Belfast twice in the space of a year. Campaigning and putting yourself out there is a really big step to take but when you get over the line because of number one votes and transfers it's overwhelming. It's an honour and not something to be taken lightly.

My best buy

The A-Z of London which I bought when I was 18 and jumped on a plane to there. It's a roadmap that brought me so many adventures.

My best book

The Colour Purple by Alice Walker. My mum gave me this book in my late teens, early 20s. It took a long time to get past the first few pages, but one day I picked it up and something clicked. I read it from start to finish in a day and it's phenomenal.

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