Monday, 3 December 2012

Changing Lives, Transforming Communities
The Search for West Midlands’ New Civic Leaders

Operation Black Vote (OBV) are delighted to launch a unique Civic Leadership Programme to nurture Wolverhampton and Birmingham’s future leaders. The aim of the project is to increase the representation of Black and minority ethnic individuals (BME) in all areas and all levels of civic and public life.

OBV will select 50 dynamic BME individuals aged 18 years upwards who live or work in Wolverhampton or Birmingham with a keen interest in positively contributing to their community. Through this project we aim to positively change people’s lives, civic institutions and their communities. Individuals will participate in a mixture of observation and training sessions across four broad categories of public life: politics, education, the criminal justice system and the voluntary and community sector.

The initiative will focus on giving participants firsthand knowledge of the roles and responsibilities of school governors, board members, trustees and other public life roles and an insight into the systems and procedures of public bodies. The aim is that upon completion, this leadership programme will equip and motivate participants to engage in public life.

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.

Francine Fernandes, Assistant Director of Operation Black Vote said, “We are delighted to work in Birmingham and Wolverhampton address the under-representation of BME communities in key areas of civic society. I'm convinced that from this innovative leadership programme a new generation of civic leaders, school governors and community organisers will emerge. There is a wealth of untapped talent amongst BME communities and this programme will provide a platform to nurture this talent for the benefit of all communities.”

Cllr John Cotton, Birmingham Council Cabinet Member for Social Cohesion and Equalities said, “Birmingham is home to a vibrant and diverse array of people and communities.  We need to ensure that diversity is reflected at all levels of leadership within our city.   We have to ensure that we use all the talents within our city, if we want to meet the tremendous economic, social and political challenges we face in the future.”

Cllr Roger Lawrence, Leader of Wolverhampton Council said, “This project is important in Wolverhampton to get wider participation of people from all backgrounds in political & civic life. OBV provides another way to ensure all parts of all communities can have their say.”

Currently BME individuals are woefully represented in our 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 socioeconomic conditions which BME communities experience.  

Please contact OBV on 020 8983 5426 for further information or to obtain an application form.