Press Release: The Search for Lewisham’s New Civic Leaders

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

Operation Black Vote will select 20 dynamic BME individuals aged 18 years upwards who live or work in Lewisham with a keen interest in positively contributing to their community. Individuals will participate in a mixture of observation and training sessions across four broad categories of public life: Health, 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 appointments 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.

Sir Steve Bullock, Mayor of Lewisham, said: "Our community becomes stronger when people from all its parts come forward to take representative and leadership roles in our public and civic institutions and give their time to run voluntary and community groups. This programme is designed to give people from communities who are traditionally under-represented in these roles, the skills and confidence they need to put themselves forward for elected or civic office."

Francine Fernandes, OBV Head of Shadowing, said: “We are delighted to work in partnership with Lewisham Council to 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 Lewisham’s BME community and this programme will provide a platform to nurture this talent for the benefit of all communities.”

Sylbourne Sydial, OBV Graduate Parliamentary Ambassador, and Executive Chair, Facilitators for a Better Jamaica (FFBJ) Said: "We live in a community where the black voice is often marginalised and unheard yet are indispensable to the functioning of civil society. The programme is needed to assist future generations of citizen leaders. I believe in the vision of the project which is the awakening and equipping total leaders for tomorrow's challenges."

Please contact OBV on 020 8983 5471 for further information or to obtain an application form. Web: Email:

Closing date: Wednesday 30th September 2009 at 12noon.