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Mission possible for Supermum

She calls herself “a mum on a mission”, and when you consider the breathtaking number of projects Jenni Steele is involved with, we’re sure you’ll agree.

Her first priority is her three teenagers, including two football-mad sons, but in between her office manager job and caring for her kids she is a social entrepreneur, fashion designer, radio presenter, DJ, actress, dancer, singer and model.

Now it’s not unknown for people to list a whole range of professions on their business card, but when it comes to Jenni Steele, she’s really doing it.

Oh, and she’s also aiming to become a councillor at next year’s local elections.

Jenni and Ms Dynamite

The 36-year-old from Bellingham in south London said: “The next stage for the community work I do is to become a councillor.

“It’s similar to the work I do with women, such as running CV workshops for mums, or helping mums whose sons have been in trouble.”

Having spent time researching political parties, she picked the Liberal Democrats. “I looked at the diverse side of the party as well as the activities they put on for youth”, she said.

Jenni is currently taking part in the Lewisham Civic Leadership Programme, a partnership between Operation Black Vote and Lewisham Council, which was launched last Thursday to encourage more talented people from BME backgrounds to become effective school governors, members of health boards and trustees.

Jenni is specialising in the Safer Neighbourhood panel, a committee of volunteers that offer advice to community cops about how to make their area safer.

Jenni wants to gain a greater insight about how institutions function, but most organisations could probably learn a lot from her too.

On the decks

As well as running Lioness Ladies, a group that helps local mothers, she also has her own fashion label – Lion and Lioness Clothing – which has been endorsed by a host of music stars including Ms Dynamite (pictured above) and Omar.

Money raised through this social enterprise is ploughed back into community projects such as football kits for young boys.

Jenni calls herself a “football mum” and has two soccer-mad sons; a 13-year-old who trains with the Charlton Athletic academy, and a 17-year-old on Cambridge United’s books.

Even though, as a DJ, she’s occasionally spinning records late into Saturday nights, she insisted: “I’m still there standing by the side of the football field at 9am on Sunday morning.”

Her kids come first, she says proudly, and she tries to involve them with everything she does. The fact that her 17-year-old is able to vote for the first time next year has inspired Jenni to go into politics.

But if she does get elected, it won’t stop Jenni being involved in community projects. She is already lining up a gig as a presenter on Generation Radio, a licensed station serving the Clapham Park area.

It should be second nature to her, having already clocked up an impressive record as a presenter on a number of community stations including as Bluesfm, Genesis and Invincible.

As if that wasn’t enough, Jenni is also an actress, with small parts in Channel 4’s adaptation of Zadie Smith’s White Teeth, playing a prison warden in BBC1’s series In Deep, and in Life and Lyrics, the general-release movie featuring Ashley Walters.

She says acting is a “gift” given to her, but she’s also a talented dancer appearing in the music videos of the Blazing Squad, Freddi Kruga and Fatboy Slim. Last year she also designed the clothes for Bashy’s Black Boys video shoot.

On top of that, Jenni is a professional model who has featured on Diesel Jeans and Nike adverts, and in 2007 she won the Miss Beautiful international pageant.

Asked how she fits all this in, as well as being a working mother, Jenni modestly says that she’s “not doing everything at once”, but what is clear is that she is an exceptional, driven and talented women of the kind that politics – and public life in general – is crying out for.

OBV’s Simon Woolley stated: “It is particularly pleasing that after just one meeting Jenni decided to apply for a crucial decision making position. This is precisely what this leadership project is about. I’m sure others will follow suit.”

Whatever is next for Jenni, it’s certain that she will make a huge impact. And without doubt many people in Lewisham will be rooting for her to succeed.

By Lester Holloway


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