Journal: Candace Springer

On Friday 9th October, twenty nine colleagues and I embarked on an inspiring journey that would undoubtledly shape my future. I decided to become part of the Lewisham Civic Leadership programme mainly, because I was quietly concerned by my two boys disengagement to explore structural and systemic issues- BME representation in their schools, curriculum content or low teacher expectations.

Recently, my discourse with them would be greeted by "oh Mum not this again, why do we have to talk about this?" Had they become condiitoned to ignore these controversial yet relevent topics and live in a 'culture of silence'? As a parent I struggled to counteract this growing sense of apathy.

As an educator, I understand the importance of my children developing a critical awareness of structural and systemic issues that affect them and our communities, so as to promote change. Being part of this process, will give me the opportunity to lead by example, moving from the periphery to inside, from dialogue to action. I want to inspire my children to take up their civic leadership positions, let their voices be heard and go on to influence social change in our communities.

My journey so far has been very interesting, emotional and rewarding. From the onset of this programme, we have been given motivational words of encouragement by all speakers. Hope, aspiration, redressing inequaliites through civic engagement have been the central themes.

Particularly, the Programme Coordinator's journey through OBV's civic leadership ranks to become a Magistrate has inspired me. Her story added a personal touch, as she demonstrated she could relate to our anxieties, fears and concerns. Crucially, it reminded me of the importance of our roles as community ambassadors: to encourage and demonstrate to our community members the benefits of civic engagement.

So far, the biggest highlight of my journey has been attending a reception hosted by MP Vicky Foxcroft at the Houses of Parliament. I was invited by my supportive Councillor Mentor -Babara Dacres. This was my first visit to this majestic place. I was left in awe of the surroundings, especially the beautiful and magnificent array of tapestry and architecture.

Equally, I was drawn to the rich and stimulating conversations I had with other attendees on structural issues surrounding mental health, tax credits or inequalities in education. Importantly, I felt that my voice was significant and valued.

Each person's narrative helped to solidify the importance of civic participation in effecting social change. I was left so motivated that I wrote to Vicky Foxcroft requesting that she critiqued the government plans to revise student loan agreements. My experiences have left me motivated to work harder. I eagerly look forward to fully embrace the upcoming months.