Operation Black Vote (OBV) unveiled Birmingham’s new generation of civic leaders at a media launch of their Civic Leadership Programme last week.
This unique civic leadership programme is designed to nurture future leaders from BME communities in the West Midlands with the aim of increasing the representation of Black and minority ethnic individuals (BME) in all areas and all levels of civic and public life.
OBV have 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 firsthand 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 poorly represented in public and civic institutions. Not only is this damaging to a healthy democracy, but the impacts of the lack of representation have 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”.