Unveiling Birmingham’s next generation of civic leaders

By on 25/03/2013 in Deputy Leader, News

Operation Black Vote (OBV)  unveiled Birmingham's new generation of civic leaders at the launch of its Civic Leadership Programme last week.

The unique Civic Leadership Programme is designed to nurture future leaders from Black and Minority Ethnic (BME) communities in the West Midlands with the aim of increasing the representation of BME individuals in all areas and all levels of civic and public life.

OBV has selected 40 dynamic BME individuals from Birmingham and Wolverhampton with a keen interest in positively contributing to their community. The initiative will focus on giving participants first-hand knowledge of the roles and responsibilities across four broad categories of public life: politics, education, the criminal justice system and the voluntary and community sector.

The aim is that upon completion, this leadership programme will equip and motivate participants to engage in public life.

Anita Shervington, a participant on the programme said, “This programme will create, not necessarily an easier, but a clearer pathway for access. Even more importantly, it will facilitate the utilisation of the diverse experience, knowledge and skills we have to offer and that can only enhance and assist informed decision making in our city.”

Participants will also be encouraged to become community ambassadors, explaining and promoting the benefits of civic engagement and encouraging others to also become involved in community affairs. Through this project we aim to positively change people's lives, civic institutions and their communities.

Francine Fernandes, Deputy Director of Operation Black Vote said, “We are delighted to work in Birmingham to address the under-representation of BME communities in key areas of civic society. The dynamic programme will provide a vital bridge between communities, politicians and civic leaders by nurturing the next generation of BME local and national leaders.”

Currently BME individuals are woefully represented in our public and civic institutions. Not only is this damaging to a healthy democracy, but the impact of the lack of representation has detrimental consequences to the socio-economic conditions which BME communities experience.

Councillor Ian Ward, Deputy Leader of Birmingham City Council said, “The Council is pleased to be working with Operation Black Vote on an initiative to increase the participation of people from Black and minority ethnic communities in the civic life of the city.  Engaging people from different backgrounds can only strengthen democracy within the city”.

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Notes to editors

1. Operation Black Vote is a non-party political campaign.

2. The term 'Black' is a political term. It refers to African, Asian,Caribbean and other ethnic minorities.

3. The programme will be based in the West Midlands -Wolverhampton and Birmingham and comprise approximately

8-10 non-consecutive days over a six month period from April - October.

4. A total of 40 people have been chosen from across the West Midlands, 28 from Birmingham and 12 from Wolverhampton. The Birmingham programme launched on 22nd March and the Wolverhampton programme will launch on 9th April.

5. Individuals will participate in a mixture of observation and training sessions across four areas of public life. Candidates may choose between 2-4 areas of public life from the following areas:

Education: School Governors

Criminal Justice System: Safer Neighbourhood Panels

Politics: Councillor

Voluntary Sector: Trustees

6. OBV's Civic Leadership Programme is free, with expenses covered for travel and lunches.

7. The programme is funded by the Barrow Cadbury Trust and the Big Lottery Fund. Partnership support has also been received from  Birmingham City Council and Wolverhampton City Council.

8. OBV has successfully run shadowing schemes for over 10 years covering a wide range of civic and political roles.

Some graduates include political firsts such as Helen Grant MP, first woman of African Caribbean woman to become a Conservative MP and nearly 100 other graduates have become Magistrates, dispensing justice in cities across the country. The success of the programmes has resulted in twelve political accolades which include the Local Government Chronicle Award and the Channel 4 Political Award in 2008.

For more information contact Francine Fernandes, Operation Black Vote on 0208 983 5426

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