Merry Xmas: But what a year we’ve had!


What a year we’ve had, sounds like an understatement of the year I’m not even quite sure where to start?

Maybe I should start with yesterday and attending the funeral  of the Honorary Alderwoman Gee Bernard. Known to many simply as ‘Mama Gee’.

The Croydon Chapel simply wasn’t big enough to house the hundreds who sought to pay tribute to the borough’s first Black councillor and life-long warrior for social and racial justice.

Given what’s going on in our ever-changing, often hate-filled world the officiating Minister Elder Anum Abeng, told the throng: “If you really want to pay tribute to Mama Gee take her baton and continue the struggle”. And with that the attendees rose without any prompt with cheers and applause.

As the year ends we are very much aware that the hard won pillars of decency and human rights have been shaken to the core, not just here, but right across Europe and the USA. You know it’s serious when the heir to the throne, Prince Charles, makes an unprecedented political intervention articulating worries about ‘1930’s’ style populism and its intolerant tendencies.

As you’d expect OBV’s year - our 20th anniversary - has been action packed; fighting difficult battles such as the rise of xenophobia that shockingly surfaced during the Brexit debate.

We’ve continued to work hard with Government and local authorities in pursuit of a robust race equality agenda, but we’ve also found time to nurture BME talent here, across Europe and the USA.

Our success stories have been with  the election of London Mayor, Sadiq Khan and OBV alumnus, Mayor Marvin Rees of Bristol, along with the Prime Minister Theresa May rolling out an OBV idea to have a Race Equality Audit right across Whitehall- Watch this space!

Looking ahead to early next year, we must call upon you to support us as never before. Our goal is not just to survive, but to thrive in a vision for unlocking BME talent, demanding policies that deliver greater race equality, and building a fairer society much more harmoneous than we've seen in recent months.

Finally, for those of us who can, we should put down work tools, rest and be with our loved ones, ready for a dynamic year ahead.

Keep strong, and Merry Xmas. Together we look forward to 2017.

Simon Woolley