OBV Profile: Jennette Arnold

Arnold, 58, who says she is "inspired by everyday people doing extraordinary things", has been an elected member of the London Assembly since 2000. In 2004 she was re-elected to represent the North East London Constituency, made up of Islington, Hackney and Waltham Forest.

Describing her role she says: "I am there to represent the people in my constituency. I live and work in one of the most deprived communities in the country and it is essential I represent those people as well as be part of a team of Labour members who support Labour policies across London."

Currently Arnold has many responsibilities; she is vice-chair of the London Cultural Consortium and a member of the trustee board of Sadler Wells Royal Court Theatre where she is supporting the theatre's Black writers' programme. Since 2000 she has been a member of the London Metropolitan Police Authority (MPA) and has served as chair of the London Health Commission from 2004.

As a member of the MPA she actively pushed to ensure that crime and disorder partnerships were established in her three boroughs. She adds that she felt honoured to have played a part in getting more police back into the community through the success of safer neighbourhood policing.

Arnold, who believes in collectivism, was a former councillor for the London borough of Islington from 1994 and held the position for eight years.

She reveals: "From an early age I became politically active because I was interested in social justice and it was at a time when people were talking about inequality and the rights of Black people. I joined the Labour Party in the early 70s when so many campaigns were taking place."

Her political interests stem from a number of occurrences. She recalled her first political memory to be that of the 1965 Smethwick race riots in the West Midlands ignited by the infamous Enoch Powell's 'Rivers of Blood' speech.

She adds: "My politicisation was not only what was happening here but about what was happening on the international agenda. I grew up around people who were campaigning, especially those who were campaigning for freedom in African countries. This is what I grew up with everyday, so I was always surrounded by political action in one form or another."

Arnold, a married mother-of-one, was born in a small village in Montserrat. The village in which she grew up no longer exists after it was swathed in volcanic out pour in 1998.

She says: "Last year when I was on the island I could only stand and point to where my place of birth place was. But Montserrat still remains and it was a privilege to be there."

She came to Britain as an infant, during what she describes as the "Post-Windrush years". At a time when racism was rife Arnold says that she lived in a very protected environment and spent her formative years growing up between Aston in Birmingham and Hackney in London.

In 1973 she trained and qualified as a staff nurse in Birmingham and in 1987 joined the London Royal College of Nursing (RCN). She spent about 13 years in the medical health field holding various positions from General Secretary, Health Visitor to Regional Director of Services in London.

Her transition from nursing into politics was a gradual one. While at the RCN she decided to become a member of the General Municipal and Boiler Maker's Union (GMB) after she was inspired seeing the work of one of the first Black trade union activist's, Sam White.

Since that time she has spent over 30 years as a trade union activist and says that it was her work with the union that politicised her in employment rights and the social justice agenda.

Children's rights are another particular concern for Arnold. As Patron of the Victoria Climbe Foundation, she wants to help children get the opportunities she had in life in terms of love and care; and she also wants to put a stop to the current level of child trafficking and smuggling.

Arnold has major works in progress and plans to continue fulfilling her roles. She plans to represent her constituency in the years leading up to the 2012 Olympic Games but she also wants to continue being an instrumental member of the Metropolitan Police Authority and continue her work as chair for the London Health Commission.

For politically detached young people she offers the advice: "Go out there and get engaged in something positive - make a positive impact in the community."