Born in Denton, the third of eight children, Catherine’s roots in Newcastle are deep. She grew up in the West End of the city, attending Sacred Heart Comprehensive School in Fenham. Her family also goes back generations in this area, and currently live throughout Newcastle: in Newburn, Denton, Lemington, Gosforth and Woolsington.
Whilst studying Politics and History at Edinburgh University, Catherine was active in various student organisations – campaigning on international development, human rights and social justice issues. It was from that platform that Catherine was elected to the Edinburgh University Students Association, and appointed as Finance Officer. Catherine campaigned for Fairtrade goods to be sold in all University outlets, something which was achieved by the time she graduated in the year 2000. After leaving Edinburgh, Catherine went on to study Law at Northumbria University.
Before first being elected as the Labour Member of Parliament for Newcastle upon Tyne North in May 2010, Catherine worked as an employment solicitor with a large Newcastle law firm.
Catherine was briefly a member of the House of Commons Political and Constitutional Reform Committee, before she was appointed to the position of Shadow Solicitor General by Ed Miliband as part of his first frontbench team in October 2010.
In October 2011, Catherine was appointed Shadow Minister for Children and Young Families. She then joined the Shadow Treasury team in May 2012, and has held the roles of both Shadow Economic Secretary and Shadow Exchequer Secretary to the Treasury – more information about this work can be read here.
Catherine is a member of a number of All-Party Parliamentary Groups (APPGs). She is the co-chair of both the APPG for International Anti-Corruption, and the Parliamentary Friends of CAFOD, as well as being an active member of the APPGs on Multiple Sclerosis, Diabetes and HIV/AIDS. Catherine is also a passionate advocate for apprenticeships and introduced an Apprenticeships Bill into the House of Commons shortly after first being elected – read more here.
Catherine lives in the constituency with her husband, Rhys, and their three young children.