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Mayor welcomes Lewisham’s ‘Obama generation’

Members of Lewisham Civic Leadership Programme with Simon Woolley & Mayor Sir Steve Bullock

Lewisham Civic Leadership Programme members with Mayor Sir Steve Bullock & OBV's Simon Woolley

A new generation of civic leaders from Lewisham’s Black and Minority Ethnic communities was inaugurated on Tuesday night in the Council Chamber at Lewisham Town Hall, South London.

20 people were presented with certificates to mark their participation in the first ever Civic Leadership Development Programme. The programme is designed to increase the representation of Black and minority ethnic individuals (BME) in all areas and at all levels of civic and public life. The programme is a partnership between Lewisham Council and Operation Black Vote.

It will form the blueprint which Operation Black Vote will propose other local authorities take up as part of the agenda for change. Speaking after the event Simon Woolley, Director of Operation Black Vote, said: “The OBV Lewisham civic leadership programme broke new ground with a programme that inspired 20 individuals to be civic champions. From a standing start, three are standing as local Councillors four have put applications for various posts, and three have already been successful. Programme member Fay Scott’s appointment to the Office of Qualifications and Examinations Regulation (Ofqual) is an achievement we can all be proud of. I’m convinced that other local authorities will use this blueprint to ensure their civic making bodies are inclusive and representative.”

Members of Lewisham’s local communities, local Councillors, community groups were in attendance. The attending guests heard an impassioned plea from programme member Janet Mae Bowens for BME communities to engage in civic life. As a result of this programme Janet Mae Bowens, who graduated last September from Goldsmiths University with a BA (Hons) in Community Development and Youth Work, is applying to become a School Governor. Janet pointed out that “Many people do not believe they can get involved in the decision making process within their local community. Many also believe these positions are only reserved for a specific class and makeup of people, this is not true. We all can and are capable of getting involved.”

Members of the programme have taken part in a mixture of observation and training sessions across four areas of public life: health; education; the criminal justice system; and the voluntary and community sectors. Participants have gained the confidence, knowledge and capacity to be more active within their chosen area of public life and to put themselves forward for positions such as school governors, members of Safer Neighbourhood Panels, voluntary organisations or health board members.

Speaking after the event Lewisham’s Mayor Sir Steven Bullock said “I am extremely proud to welcome our first programme graduates as colleagues in civic life. I am tremendously impressed at the talent and ability that the programme has uncovered from within our community and I am confident they will play a part in making our community stronger and better. I am also sure there are many others who will be eager to follow in their footsteps.”

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One Response

  1. […] OBV meets with the GIL Centre Posted on April 8, 2010 by operationblackvote Operation Black Vote met with the GIL Centre, a Lewisham based grassroots organisation, yesterday to discuss ways to motivate and inspire young black people. The group coordinator Glenis Leitch (pictured, centre right, with the group) is a member on the Lewisham Civic Leadership Programme. […]

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