Lewisham's new leaders revealed
The desire to make a difference filled the air at the recent training day for the Lewisham Civic Leadership Programme. The forty programme members on the 2011 scheme were eager to learn how to ensure that Black and Minority Ethnic (BME) voices are heard. The energy and enthusiasm amongst the group was visible as they began their journey to become the next generation of leaders in Lewisham.
Run in partnership with Lewisham Council to address the deficit of BME individuals in key areas of public life, the programme members heard from Councillors Damien Egan, Christine Allison and Julia Fletcher about how they could make an impact, influence the decision making process and become ‘warriors for social change’. The Councillors informed the participants of the various ways in which they could engage with the Council on matters which may affect them as local residents – ranging from anti-social behaviour to school exclusions.
Commenting on the day, Cllr Damien Egan, Cabinet Member with responsibility for Equalities said:
"OBV makes me wonder just how many talented BME men and women Councils up and down this country are missing out on by not being proactive and innovative in their recruitment. I was really impressed by the calibre of the programme participants and of their ambition for Lewisham, there is a real sense that politics need to change and that all communities expect their voices to be heard"
The day concluded with a challenging role-play scenario, enabling the participants to use the skills that they had gained throughout the day, to act as a Board and come to a decision on how best to allocate an amount of money.
Programme Member Jason Thompson said:
"The day left me feeling challenged, inspired and filled with a sense of purpose of what our group could achieve - I'm already looking forward to the next one!"
The Civic Leadership Programme was established in 2010, and was a huge success with more than half of the graduates assuming public life roles. The continuing effect of the programme is clear, and only this week Janet Bowens, a graduate of last year’s programme was appointed as a School Governor.
Head of Shadowing Schemes for Operation Black Vote, Francine Fernandes said,
“These individuals are a shining beacon of civic activism at it best – the participants are the unsung heroes of our communities – using their skills, experience and time, to make a positive contribution to their community, now and in the future.”