OBV Profile: Donatus Anyanwu

For nearly nine years Anyanwu has been a councillor for Coldharbour Ward in Lambeth and at present sits as a cabinet member in the council for health and adult services.

His decision to join the Labour Party came about because he felt that the party's ideals fulfilled many of his life principles. He says: "To be quite honest I grew up in a place where in society you give people the opportunity to improve their lives and this is what I feel the party represents."

Anyanwu, 46, grew up in Nigeria where he says he lived in a community of life where people supported and looked after each other.

It was in Nigeria that he built his political interest. He says. "My father was very much involved in the trade union. I grew up watching him and his co-workers who were active in the union and that gave me my political insight and education"

In his late teens Anyanwu left Nigeria and went to live in the south of Ireland to study for a degree in History and Sociology at the University College Cork, he later completed a MA in Diplomatic History.

He says Ireland added another dimension to his political education. And although he enjoyed his period there he adds: "At that time Ireland's economy was not good, deprivation made it necessary for people to leave for England to try to improve their lives."

In 1988 he settled in London and now the married father-of-one works as a legal services manager for a voluntary organisation where he is responsible for community health services, ensuring the health agenda is prioritised and that health concerns in the borough is addressed.

Previously he managed a service for the homeless for 15 years - where he provided legal advice and challenged housing decisions made by local authorities.

Some of his former responsibilities have included being chair of the London Equality and Opportunities Federation and various work involving equality agendas.

Anyanwu's expresses a passion and commitment to those who are socially excluded. One particular group he mentions is the older generation, many of whom he believes have no contact with other individuals. He plans to start a befriending scheme for isolated elderly people in the near future.

For many years Anyanwu was one of only two Black Councillors in Lambeth, but he believes that things have now changed dramatically and the lack of Black and minority ethnics (BME) representation is being addressed. "In the last election we had 12 Councillors from the BME community elected, I'm glad we made a difference" he says.

Part of this change came about when he setup Integrated Voices, a programme which invited Black organisations to hold a discussion on how they could encourage more people to take a lead in their community and also consider becoming politicians.

While taking on these challenges he made huge strides in the community. He played a major part in pushing forward the idea to regenerate Angel Town estate which was previously notorious for crime and drug use; a new community centre is now being built in the area.

On top of that, permission was granted to build a new school - Shakespeare Road School - scheduled for 2009, and a horse club in Brixton for inner-city youngsters to be ready in 2008.

He explains that he wants to be an example to future generations, adding: "I got into politics because I want to make a difference. What really pushed me was to show people from my own ethnic background that we can stand in public positions and make a difference."