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OBV meets with the GIL Centre

GIL Centre members with Simon Woolley

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.

People are aware of the work we at OBV undertake, through our groundbreaking MP Shadowing Schemes and Magistrates seminars, Britain’s BME communities engage with the campaign in a number of dynamic ways. One little known aspect of our campaign is the meetings we hold with small community groups. Too often these meetings go unnoticed, perhaps due to their ‘under the radar’ nature, but they are a staple of our work. OBV provides materials, advice and guidance to various community groups throughout the year. One such group is the GIL Centre.

The GIL Centre aims to broaden, develop and promote academic learning based on the individual’s gifts, to inspire students to develop and maintain a mental, social/ physical balance in their life; encourage and empower Parents/Guardians to support their children to reach and maintain their full potential in every aspect.

OBV met with the GIL Centre delegation Wednesday afternoon to share our experiences of campaigning for racial justice and better BME representation in politics. Over tea and biscuits the group of 11 talked about the work OBV undertakes and also the importance of being empowered to effect change.

Speaking after the meeting OBV Director Simon Woolley said “For me the GIL Centre and the delegation that came to visit represent the very best in community activism and support. When you have the kind of conversation that we had with the Centre’s young and women, and some of their mothers too, you get to see the energy and talent as well as a better understanding of the challenges many face.”

The big campaign moments move people and capture the headlines (as we saw with the visits by civil rights legends Rev Al Sharpton and Rev Jesse Jackson) but it’s the smaller work that fills in the gaps. Like building a house brick by brick these meetings are steps toward the change we want to see, one by one, together we’re building the future we all wish to live in.

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