Journal: Meena Khatwa

Meena Khatwa: Journal account one

Meeting the Future Civic Leaders: 09/10/15

When responding to the advertisement in the local paper I never envisaged myself sitting in the Civic Suite chambers listening to Sir Steve Bullock talking about 'how we were all potential civic leaders.' It felt wonderful to be embarking on this journey with likeminded individuals.

Getting to know my mentor: 17/10/15

Being paired up with a mentor is a fantastic way to find out what a local councillor does. Cllr Liz Johnston-Franklin took me to see a local artist, Lionel Stanhope who with her support had been granted permission to create some street art on Ladywell Road. I got an insight into what direct action can achieve and the commitment a councillor gives in regards to meetings, surgeries and local issues. We discussed the campaign 'let's talk about rubbish.'

I expressed how the posters were misleading and didn't relay the severity of how services would be affected. We brainstormed on how you could engage people on this issue and I suggested: incentives, targeting school children about recycling and rewarding the best 'green' street.

My first Labour soiree: 20/10/15

I recently became a new member of the Labour party and was invited by Vicky Foxcroft to a parliamentary reception at Jubilee House. I chatted to a few new members about the civic leadership programme who were interested in what I was undertaking. I also bumped into a fellow member and mentor from the programme.

At the local level: Safer Stronger Communities Select Committee: 21/10/15

I attended this meeting with my mentor Liz and saw some familiar faces from the programme. We were given the agenda and information on the issues being discussed.

The session led by council members (researchers, policy advisors) and equally a good turn out of local residents. The subject being discussed was: 'Voluntary Sector Accommodation Consultation update.' This involved community centres in various parts of Lewisham being considered for property development.

I was saddened by the threat to the closures of these centres as some of them were familiar to me. Representatives shared heartfelt stories of their centre's histories, support systems for local residents. After talking to my councillor, it was useful to see this objectively in regards to the Lewisham housing crisis and how some of these centres were under-resourced and underused. It made me realise how so much is going on in Lewisham that I'm not aware of.