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, where she regularly mediated disputes, appeared before employment tribunals and represented clients in a broad range of environments.
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. Shen then became Shadow Exchequer Secretary to the Treasury and a member of the Shadow Treasury team in May 2012, before being appointed Shadow Economic Secretary to the Treasury in October 2013 – more information about this role can be read here.
Catherine is a member of several All-Party Parliamentary Groups (APPGs). She is the co-chair of the APPG for International Anti-Corruption, which she founded, 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.