Only two weeks ago, a young Bulgarian woman managed to make her name known in British political history and became the first Bulgarian and one of the few foreigners ever to be elected municipal councilor in the country's May 5 local elections. Illustrator Paulina Vassileva took second place with 20.19% of the vote in her South Richmond borough and the opportunity to take an active part in the political and social life of the place she has lived in for the past 15 years.
In an interview with Radio Bulgaria, Paulina told us that she loves her neighbourhood very much and has always wanted to have a beneficial influence on it.
Her success came in her second appearance at the municipal election.
But every story has a beginning. Paulina was born in Sofia, where she graduated from the American College with the clear idea that she wanted to continue her education in Europe. She was accepted to a university in the Netherlands when the news came that she had been awarded a presidential scholarship by the American International University in London, and at the end of 2006 her childhood dream of living in the UK came true. In 2012, she specialized at the Sotheby's Institute of Art. She admits that at the beginning of her studies she intended to develop an academic career in the field of image theory, semantics and semiology, but gradually painting prevailed over these interests.
Today, Paulina works as a freelance illustrator. That's why she admits with a smile that for Richmond she is one of the few exceptions for a person with a normal and not very highly paid job who lives in a rented place. The borough is one of the richest in London. Its suburb of Teddington has been named the best place to live in the English capital by the Sunday Times in 2021. "There are Bulgarians here, but we are not many," says the young girl. Today, her main commitments as a municipal councilor in the region are related to responding to the problems of local citizens of all kinds.
"I am very interested in the field of social assistance. In addition to my participation in the last election campaign and the one for municipal councillors, I am very well acquainted with the other side of Richmond. These are the problems of citizens who are extremely disadvantaged, who are often considered not to live in the borough. Very serious problems, the solution of which requires coordination between different institutions. But there are also problems that allow me to make a direct contribution to people's lives and destinies. And this social aspect is the first thing that inspired me to get involved in the local government," says Paulina.
The 15 years of living in London and all