PRESS NOTICE: Bringing Obama’s Change to Liverpool

This week saw the Inauguration of the 44th President of the United States of America. President Elect Barack Obama’s stunning victory last November is just the beginning of an historic change. Operation Black Vote (OBV) is dedicated to bringing that change to Liverpool.

OBV has teamed up with Liverpool City Council to nurture the next generation of Liverpool political leaders. 9 Black and other Minority Ethnic (BME) individuals have been handpicked to be mentored by local Councillors from the main political parties.

Of Liverpool’s 90 Councillors, only 1 is of Black and Minority Ethnic origin. The aim of the cross party initiative is to ensure Liverpool City Council has more Black and Minority Ethnic councillors, and that BME communities engage with the council in all areas and at all levels of local governance.

Scheme participants (known as ‘Shadows’) observe the workings of the Council; they attend Councillors surgeries, training days and other special events. The aim is to give them the skills, confidence and experience to seek elected office and to represent their communities. OBV believes that the Shadows are the next generation of British Barack Obama’s.

The scheme follows in the footsteps of OBV’s highly successful mentoring schemes such as the Magistrate Shadowing Scheme which has produced nearly 40 BME magistrates and the Welsh Assembly Shadowing Scheme which looks set to produce Wales’s first Black MP.

As part of OBV’s work on BME representation Assistant Director Ashok Viswanathan will be attending the Liverpool Commission meeting this week. It will be chaired by Professor Michael Brown, Vice Chancellor Liverpool John Moores University, and will seek evidence from organisations about the theme of “Community Leaders of the future - Reflecting the Community we represent”. The Liverpool Commission will be held on Thursday, 22nd January, 2009 6.30 p.m in the Herculaneum/Huskisson Room, Millennium House, Victoria Street, Liverpool L1 6JF.

Nathalie Nicholas, Shadow (Mentor: Cllr Steve Radford ) said: "Everyone needs to appreciate this victory, and recognise the valuable input people from BME communities have to offer."

Mrs Jing Liu Deng, Shadow (Mentor: Cllr Karen Afford) said: "I'm very excited as being from a BME community I see great hope for BME communities now Barack Obama is President. The BME people in Britain need to draw hope from this so we can see change in Britain."

Simon Woolley, OBV Director said: “Barack Obama has shown us the way; now we must rise to the challenge of creating a fair and inclusive Liverpool City Council for all our communities.

Only by engaging in the political process can we bring full BME representation to the political establishment”

Participants from the OBV & Liverpool City Council Councillor Shadowing Scheme are available for interviews upon request. Photos of Scheme participants are available upon request.

Contact: Ashok Viswanathan, 0208 983 5430

ENDS.

Notes to the editor:

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. 9 BME individuals have been selected to ‘shadow’ local Liverpool Councillors from the main political parties.v

4. See OBV website for further details: www.obv.org.uk

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