Introducing the BLAC Awards 2022 VIP Presenters

A massive thank you to everyone who have been submitting a nomination or cast a vote…or both!

Once again we have been impressed by the exceptionally high standard of entries!  Fortunately, we have an exceptionally high standard of amazing VIP Presenters who each bring an incredible depth of experience, knowledge, and expertise surrounding the ethos of The BLAC Awards.

Note: All listed MP’s and Presenters have kindly agreed to attend this event, however, due to Parliamentary changes and other unexpected complexities, changes to this line-up may be inevitable.
 

Rachel Onikosi

Owner of TEDx Lewisham

Rachel Onikosi 

Owner of TEDx Lewisham

Rachel is the owner of TEDx Lewisham and a Public Speaker, delivering talks, conversations and thought leaderships to

communities and organisations. 

Rachel is also an elected Councillor in the London Borough of Lewisham having been elected twice since 2014.

Rachel is also the owner of a brand called Onthesofa encompassing a Vlogcast (currently hosted on Youtube) and a Public Speaking platform. The overarching aim of ‘OntheSofa’ is to empower individuals to achieve their desired visions and goals. 

Rachel’s corporate career has included a combination of Politics, Government policy, Regulations, Public Affairs and Stakeholder communications / management. 

Rachel’s current corporate positions include: 

Sitting as a Non- Executive Director with the Consumer Council for Water (CCW), (a Public Body) with responsibilities that include providing high level scrutiny, challenge and direction to CCW to ensure a strong and robust corporate and financial strategy for the benefit of water customers across England and Wales. 

Rachel is also a Non-Executive Director of the newly formed organisation, the Independent Funeral Standards Organisation (IFSO), an organisation set up in 2021 to better regulate the funeral sector to protect consumers, ensure tougher sanctions for bad practice and regulate funeral arrangements and inspections to a high ethical standard. Her focus is to ensure that the Board develops a strong and evolving strategic vision for best and fair sector regulation whilst advocating on behalf of customers the principle – ‘ good service standards at value for money’

Rachel is also a Board Trustee with Victim Support, the national independent voice for victims and also sits as a member of the Lay Magistracy in two South-East London Magistrates Courts. 

Rachel is also a school governor at two primary schools within the London Borough of Lewisham.

Ellen Chiwenga

FIFA Football Match Agent

Ellen Chiwenga

FIFA Football Match Agent

To her, football isn’t just a sport, it’s a way of life.  Ellen Chiwenga is a FIFA Football Match Agent, as well as a member of the 

Association of Footballs Agents (AFA), the International Association of FIFA Licensed Football Match Agents (FIFMA), and Women in Football (WIF) from Zimbabwe.  She has been working in the world of football for more than 15 years.

During all those years, she has learned step by step all the aspects of the game, from grassroots and scouting to tactics, global business development and transfers. Through her drive to make a change in a male-dominated industry and ambition to promote diversity and equality in the game, she is today the only woman Football Match Agent in England and the only African woman Football Match Agent in the world.

United Kingdom-based Zimbabwean football intermediary Ellen Chiwenga who is also one of the advisors for the governing body’s Ethics and Regulations Watch, has finally decided that her wealth of experience in the administration of the sport benefits the local game.

As part of her duties, Ellen legally represents athletes by checking their contracts and negotiating their employment. She is responsible for the communication between the managers and individuals she represents to ensure that both sides are satisfied. She also arranges worldwide matches between teams belonging to different Confederations, such as friendly matches and tournaments between national teams or clubs.

She is planning to lead the football governing body in the country and in February 2020 she announced her ambitions to contest for the next ZIFA (Zimbabwe Football Association) president’s position which is expected to be held in 2023. She will become the first female candidate to contest for this position in the history of Zimbabwean football if she decides to fulfill her ambition.

Wllen was named the Best African Women making a difference in the Sports category at the African Virtuous Women Awards in 2018.

She was also appointed the brand ambassador of the Pakistan club FC Karachi in 2018 and was awarded the Personality of the Year Award under the 2017 Zimbabwe Achievers Awards.

In August 2019, Ellen Chiwenga was appointed Global Goodwill Ambassador of Bring Hope Humanitarian Foundation (BHHF), a charity organisation that delivers humanitarian aid and medicines to internally displaced people, refugees, and people in need around the world.

She is also a member of the ‘Right to Play’ Partnerships Committee and in January 2020 was awarded the Medal of Knight of the Order of Lafayette.

Ellen knows that football has the power to inspire and drive change in our communities; the power to make them healthier and stronger, and this is one of the many reasons why she loves football so much.

Bishop Mark Nicholson

ACTS Church, Croydon

Bishop Mark Nicholson

ACTS Church, Croydon

Bishop Mark Nicholson is a sensitive and innovative mentor for some of the most troubled teenagers in our borough.

He shows great skill in coming alongside them and speaking on their level. He has given hope and opportunity to many families who had none. He works with them on behavioural issues, schooling, employment, family relations, peer relations, drugs and crime involvement. He has faced threats and attacks and has handled them professionally. He has shown great initiative in building trust with many young people who have been abused and neglected and have subsequently shut the door on all other professional services. If there is a way to get through to them, he will usually find it.

Bishop Mark is the Senior Pastor of Acts Christian Ministry; a church that is empowered by the Boldness of the Holy Ghost. It is perhaps, the first of its kind in Croydon with two churches coming together as one, intent on Kingdom Building. This new church, as in the book of ACTS, is modelled from ACTS 2: 41-47.

He is well versed, well travelled and has preached the Gospel of Jesus Christ transforming lives in several countries, notably South Africa, Nigeria, USA, Kenya and the Congo. Many opportunities have presented themselves as God continues to extend this ministry. Bishop Mark is an accomplished keyboard player and delights in playing the Hammond Organ, as well as playing the guitar and uses his musical ability to assist in taking praise and worship to a different level.

Bishop Mark serves the Community of the Borough of Croydon as a Magistrate appointed by the Lord Chancellor. He is determined to use his position to make a positive contribution to the community and encourage more people from ethnic minorities to join him as Justice of the Peace.

The Lord has raised up this visionary leader and anointed preacher and motivational speaker to speak LIFE into the body of Christ worldwide in the 21st Century and to deliver many through the power of the Holy Spirit from the shackles of bondage, poor self-worth and low expectations. God has so blessed Bishop Mark to venture into the avenue of TV Ministry…MANministries as seen on Faith TV. Bishop Mark aspires to effect change globally – empowering people on their daily journey, spiritually and economically giving new hope and encouragement to be all whom God has ordained them to be through his revealed word.

Bro. Nia Imara

Founder & Managing Director, NABBS Supplementary School

Brother Nia Imara

Founder, NABBS Supplementary School

Brother Nia Imara is the founder and Managing Director of the National Association of Black Supplementary Schools which was founded in 2006.

Nia was a single parent for 14 years, and during that time he wanted his children to have the best start in life as possible so he brought his children to a Saturday.
 
The Saturday school which Nia took his children to was one which for 10 years he had previously been a volunteer, so he was very much  aware of the virtues of having this structure in his children’s life. 
 
Through NABSS Nia has sponsored individual student fees and cultural community events, and he has organised Supplementary Schools conferences in the UK.
 
Nia has also organised full weeks of workshops during the summer holidays at Birkbeck University, and have held ceremonies for unsung community champions and maintained a well received weekly newsletter of positive community educational and cultural events. 
 
The journey continues. 

Dawn Butler MP

Labour MP for Brent Central

Dawn Butler MP

Labour MP for Brent Central

As one of six children, Dawn was born and raised in East London to expats from Jamaica.  At a young age she worked on a 

market stall as well as helping out at her family owned bakery before starting her adult career as a computer programmer/systems analyst.

Dawn’s desire to enter politics came from a deep-rooted commitment to address inequality and strong values imparted from her parents. She soon went on to work as an equality and race officer at the GMB union and an adviser to the Mayor of London.

Elected as the Member of Parliament for Brent South on 5 May 2005 Dawn’s maiden speech described her constituency as a “shining example of integration at its best”. Dawn later became the first elected African-Caribbean woman to become a Government Minister in the UK.

Dawn has always been a passionate campaigner for young people; she is an Honorary Vice President of the British Youth Council, was chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Youth Affairs and was made a member of the Children, Schools and Families select committee and Vice Chair of the Labour Party with responsibility for Youth. In 2008 she became an Assistant Whip in the Commons before her work on youth led her to being appointed as the Minister for Young Citizens & Youth Engagement at the Cabinet Office by Gordon Brown.

A natural campaigner, since returning to Parliament Dawn has taken on the ‘Big 6’ energy companies over the excessive cost of pre-payment meters. She has held a Westminster Hall debate, launched a national petition and secured a commitment from the Prime Minister to look at this issue.

Dawn served as Labour’s Shadow Minister for Women and Equalities between 2017-2020 and continues to be strong voice in Parliament.

Gwenton Sloley

Director, Crying Sons

Gwenton Sloley

Director, Crying Sons

Gwenton is one of the founders of the London Gang Exit program saving the states over £6 million by relocating young people to safe houses

young people and their families after-care and wraparound service enabling the young people  to have a fresh start.
 
Gwenton has worked in the housing sector as a specialist in relation to the housing of ex offenders, vulnerable young people and their families for over 10 years. During this time he became involved in the professional development of professionals in related sectors through his training and books. He has made a point of remaining rooted in the communities he serves which he believes has greatly contributed to the efficacy of his work. 
 
Gwenton is recognised as having saved more lives than any other individual working in the violence sector over the last 10 years. The Home Office describe his amazing achievements in monitory terms by stating that he has saved the state approximately £42,500,000 during that period because in that time he has saved at least two lives a year, and the cost of investigating a murder is at least £1,700,000. It works out to approximately four lives a year over that period. We know it must be more than that because he is called at least twice a week to help families assessed as being at risk, move to a safe location.
 
They are only deemed to be at risk when a proven murder attempt has taken place by an individual or individuals who have a track record of murder, which is known either through intelligence from a number of sources and or prior convictions.  He does not deliver this service on a 9-5 basis because as we know the street never sleeps. As a consequence he is often in the homes of frightened families in the early hours of the morning reassuring frightened mothers and siblings that they will be taken to a place where they will be able to sleep at night and step out of their front door without fear.
 
Often even with the threat of death hanging over their heads these families choose not to move, in such cases Gwenton can find himself back at the Nine Night of the young person and the family he had previously tried to save from the ultimate loss.

Dr. Ollie Folayan

Chairman, AFBE Scotland

Dr. Ollie Folayan

Chairman, AFBE-UK Scotland

Dr Ollie Folayan is an experienced chartered process engineering consultant and an environmental fuel combustion specialist 

with experience in the oil and energy industry. He is also a fellow of the Institution of Chemical Engineers and the Principal Process Engineer at Inventive Engineering Solutions Ltd and Chair of AFBE-UK Scotland. 

Dr. Folayan believes racial disparity begins at the very early stages of education where people from BAME communities have neither the quality of education nor the family support to maximise their potential in STEM subjects. For many, much of the teaching material is not easily relatable. This then results in many BAME people missing out on places in the better-funded universities and eventually lower employment rates with the more reputable companies.

When these young people get into employment, often after a longer period of searching than their counterparts, they come into an industry in which they have few role models in positions of influence to look up to or the support networks to help them make good career decisions. 

This is why Dr. Ollie believes a serious drive to achieve racial parity must therefore involve more research into the underrepresentation of BAME people in engineering, greater investment into the funding of STEM education in inner city schools and relatively deprived areas where BAME communities often are, addressing the relatively low uptake of BAME students in Russell Group universities, better integration between industry and schools, and government-led incentives for companies that invest in STEM in their communities, greater visibility of engineering role models from BAME communities in culture and society at large, greater support for local grassroots initiatives rather than an emphasis on large events, companies not only being held accountable but being rewarded and recognised for their efforts at achieving diversity and inclusion.

Engineering runs deep in Dr. Folayan’s family; his sister Dr. Nike Folayan MBE, CEng, FIET has been accepted to the Lewis Hamilton Commission for Increasing Diversity in Motorsport, in collaboration with the Royal Academy of Engineering.

Judith Jacobs

Actress, Writer and Radio Presenter

Judith Jacobs

Actress, Writer and Radio Presenter

Judith Jacob is a British actress spanning over 30 years with her first job at the age of 13 for the BBC Play For Today called 

‘Jumping Bean Bag’, and has since worked on TV, Theatre and Radio. Judith is best known for her role as the health visitor Carmel Roberts in the BBC soap opera EastEnders, a role she played from 1986 to 1989 and has also had great jobs playing lead parts in ‘Angels’, ‘No Problem’, ‘Real McCoy’, ‘The Queens Nose’ and many theatre productions. Recently Judith has done her own own live chat shows at 3 different venues which has been very successful and as a radio presenter, Judith gives a platform to talk about real issues affecting the community such as the knife crime problem amongst the youths.

Sheldon Thomas - Founder and CEO of Gangsline

Sheldon Thomas

Founder & CEO, Gangsline

Sheldon Thomas

Founder & CEO, Gangsline

Sheldon Thomas is the Founder and Chief Executive of Gangsline. An inspirational and pioneering individual, Sheldon has an
 

unprecedented insight into gangs through his own experience as a leading gang member in the 1970s.

He now dedicates his life to engaging directly with gang leaders and members and using a ‘no holds barred’, yet spiritual, approach to changing young people’s lives and has been an advisor to the Home Office, New Scotland Yard and the Mayors Office on gang culture and violence.

Emma Dent

Emma Dent-Coad

Kensington & Chelsea Cllr

Emma Dent-Coad

Kensington & Chelsea Cllr

David was born in Tottenham as one of five children raised by a single-parent mother and is one of Parliament’s most prominent and

successful campaigners for social justice and led the campaign for Windrush British citizens to be granted British citizenship and paid compensation by the government, forcing the Home Secretary to guarantee the citizenship of Commonwealth nationals, set up a specialist Commonwealth Taskforce and establish a compensation scheme. 

Since the Grenfell Tower fire, David has been at the forefront of the fight for justice for the families and is the author of ‘Out of the Ashes: Britain after the riots’, an analysis of the long-standing causes of the 2011 riots.

Supt. tom Naughton

Met. Violent Crime Task Force

Supt. Tom Naughton

Met. Violent Crime Task Force

Every death as a result of violent crime is an utter tragedy, leaving lives destroyed and families heartbroken.  

The level of violent crime in London is clearly unacceptable.

Tom joined the Police Service in 2000, initially serving in Central London at BTP in both uniform and CID roles. During his service and progression to Superintendent, Tom has served in three forces at BTP, GMP and MPS. During 20 years of service, Tom has held portfolios and leadership responsibilities including specialisms in roads policing, operations, professional standards, criminal justice and offender management.

Tom has an array of experience in collaborating with partners, stakeholders and community leads and held operational, strategy and performance delivery roles. Successes include working collaboratively in leading cultural changes to procedure and training regarding fatality management on the railway network and later devising changes to the approved police practice concerning tactical contact in pursuits. The work significantly impacted on crime reductions in moped enabled crime thereby increasing public confidence.

With experience as a Bronze and Silver Public Order and Events Commander at both regional and national level, he is also trained in critical incident management and spontaneous firearms command. During his service he has also been part of the response to numerous high profile major and critical incidents across the UK in various leadership roles.

More recently, Tom has moved from Lambeth and Southwark Basic Command Unit (Central South BCU) to the Met’s Violent Crime Task Force (VCTF). He is now also the lead on people and wellbeing within Frontline Policing and has MPS wide portfolio responsibility for offender management.

Whilst originally from Bolton in the North West, Tom lives in Bromley with his wife and 2 children. He is a keen jogger and recently retired amateur football

Rachel Onikosi

Public Speaker & Owner of TEDx Lewisham

Rachel Onikosi 

Owner of TEDx Lewisham

Rachel is the owner of TEDx Lewisham and a Public Speaker, delivering talks, conversations and thought leaderships to

communities and organisations. 

Rachel is also an elected Councillor in the London Borough of Lewisham having been elected twice since 2014.

Rachel is also the owner of a brand called Onthesofa encompassing a Vlogcast (currently hosted on Youtube) and a Public Speaking platform. The overarching aim of ‘OntheSofa’ is to empower individuals to achieve their desired visions and goals. 

Rachel’s corporate career has included a combination of Politics, Government policy, Regulations, Public Affairs and Stakeholder communications / management. 

Rachel’s current corporate positions include: 

Sitting as a Non- Executive Director with the Consumer Council for Water (CCW), (a Public Body) with responsibilities that include providing high level scrutiny, challenge and direction to CCW to ensure a strong and robust corporate and financial strategy for the benefit of water customers across England and Wales. 

Rachel is also a Non-Executive Director of the newly formed organisation, the Independent Funeral Standards Organisation (IFSO), an organisation set up in 2021 to better regulate the funeral sector to protect consumers, ensure tougher sanctions for bad practice and regulate funeral arrangements and inspections to a high ethical standard. Her focus is to ensure that the Board develops a strong and evolving strategic vision for best and fair sector regulation whilst advocating on behalf of customers the principle – ‘ good service standards at value for money’

Rachel is also a Board Trustee with Victim Support, the national independent voice for victims and also sits as a member of the Lay Magistracy in two South-East London Magistrates Courts. 

Rachel is also a school governor at two primary schools within the London Borough of Lewisham.

Jamel C. Campbell

Early Years Educator

Jamel C. Campbell

Early Years Educator, Consultant & Author

Jamel is an Early year Educator, EY Consultant and Children’s Author and has been in this industry for more than 20 years.  Early Years is 

his speciality but he has worked in youth clubs, schools, been a mentor too many and supported children with SEND.

Jamel  is one of the UK’s Men in the Early Years champions/ ambassadors and has been featured in the media due to extensive experience and knowledge of the Early years and quirky but effective practice.

Jamel has stood on numerous platforms and prestigious establishments as a Keynote speaker at St Mary’s University, University of East London, Bath University to name a few. He has written articles for local newspaper the (Catford Chronicle) and for well known education and Early Year’s magazines such as Optimus education, TES, Famly, FSF/Tapestry, and Early Years Well-being magazine.

Jamel has featured on CBeebies “Tiny happy people ” as an Early years advisor which has been backed by the Duchess of Cambridge and the BBC’s Bitesize giving transition tips to parents and professionals alike. He has collaborated with many well respected EY professionals and consultants.

 

Jamel is passionate about the early years, he stresses the importance of having men in the early years and the importance of having a balanced diverse inclusive workforce, curriculum and pedagogy. He has partnered with MITEY (Men In The Early Years) which is associated with the Fatherhood Institute and has assisted L.E.Y.F with Extensive research About the effect of having men as part of the Early Years workforce.

 

Jamel offers training workshops for EY teams and settings based around approaches to Practice.

Greg McKenzie

BBC Broadcast Journalist

Greg McKenzie

BBC Broadcast Journalist

Greg McKenzie is a multi-award-winning BBC Broadcast Journalist who is also a self-shoot director and producer, a ‘jack of all trades’.  

Having spent more than 15 years at the BBC he is one of the most creative and dynamic multi-platform journalists in the corporation.

For the past five years, a radical new church has been promising hundreds of young people an escape from gangs and crime and a pathway to salvation through prosperity and success. SPACNation, the Salvation Proclaimers Anointed Church, holds services in hotels, conference halls, and football grounds. Its leader, Tobi Adegboyega, has been courted by politicians and the media for his work in tackling gang violence. But Panorama had discovered how the church’s outward show of concern for young people hid a less than charitable appetite for money. Reporter Greg McKenzie investigated its fundraising activities and spoke to young worshippers who said they’d been forced into debt whilst church leaders enjoyed lavish lifestyles.

This is Greg’s second BBC Panorama, his first in 2018 investigated how antique guns are being brought into the UK perfectly legally and ending up in the hands of criminals. Panorama buys two handguns, one in America, carrying it through customs, and the other from an antique guns fair in Birmingham. Under current legislation it is legal to buy and sell guns provided commercially manufactured ammunition is no longer available. But criminals are home making ammunition for these antique weapons and then using them to kill. Gloucester gun dealer Paul Edmunds flooded the streets of Birmingham and London with antique guns as well as modern guns passed off as antiques. These weapons have been used in multiple murders. Now West Midlands Police and the National Ballistics Intelligence Service are calling for a change in the law to close this loophole.

Greg has worked tirelessly within the black community often bringing stories to the news agenda that often fall off from other broadcaster’s radars. He has also reported on more than 70 murders in the capital over the last two years.

Greg exclusively obtained reporting on victims caught up in London’s gang crime, gained access to those involved in the London Riots, Restorative Justice – A Mother’s Tale, The Day In The Life Of a Social Worker -10 years on from the death of Victoria Climbie, the Victoria Station gang murder – Sofyen Belamouadden. Greg is the voice you hear when eating your cornflakes keeping you informed about the goings-on in London and is often first to report from the streets of the capital when most are tucked up in bed.

You can catch him most days on the radio or on-screen reporting for BBC One Panorama, BBC Breakfast News, BBC News Channel, BBC World News, BBC London TV News, BBC The One Show and daily on The Vanessa Feltz Breakfast Show on BBC Radio London 94.9FM

David Cohen

Evening Standard Campaigns Editr

David Cohen

The Independent & Evening Standard

David Cohen is the Investigations Editor and Campaigns Editor at The Evening Standard and the Independent.  He has led some of

The Evening Standard’s most memorable  campaigns, and won the Paul Foot award in 2013 for ‘Frontline London’ which helped former gang members start social enterprises. David gives us a behind-the-scenes glimpse into life at the ‘Standard’, shares the ingredients for writing the perfect campaign story, and reveals the challenges and rewards of working with the city’s most disenfranchised people.

The London Evening Standard conducted a hard-hitting investigation into life on one of London’s most notorious housing estates, Angell Town estate in Brixton.

Like nothing else, estates epitomise the London that has been left behind, a London of deprivation, alienation and, in some cases, brutal gang violence and radicalisation.

Angell Town is an estate in Brixton soaked in poverty with a history of violence going back generations. Alongside Campaigns Editor David Cohen, photographer Matt Writtle spent a week on the estate meeting everyone from gang members to single mothers trying to stop their children entering into the cycle of violence, as well as what the locals call ‘the undies’ (plain-clothes undercover detectives) to see the estate from their perspective.

Sarah Sands, editor of the Evening Standard, said: “As London’s paper, we want to open a debate on the state of our city’s estates and how we might improve life for Londoners living there and we start by showing what might be achieved on a single flagship estate. As far as I am aware, no British newspaper has ever tried anything like this. I say this not out of hubris, but rather out of a sense of how daunting this project is, fraught with obstacles from gangs to bureaucracy.”

Emily Lewis

Fpinder & Ceo, I Found Me Therapeutic Counselling service

Emily Lewis

Founder & CEO, IFM Counselling Service

IFM Therapeutic Counselling was founded in 2018 By Emily Lewis. The idea was to ensure that counselling could be made accessible to

Emily uses various modalities such as person-centred counselling, systemic, holistic and CBT to ensure that IFM can support people with any kind of process they may be experiencing and  works with compassion and understanding and her aim is to empower the client to attain their own strengths and resources to enable you with tools of recovery and resilience.  

Emily also supports individuals with long term complex and chronic conditions, which stems from her own personal experience of having a long term chronic & complex health condition such as lupus.  She is a qualified Therapeutic Counsellor and registered with the BACP.

In schools, Emily facilitates Therapeutic Play for children experiencing the effects of trauma and who display behaviours which impact their ability to flourish in school.  She also works with the parents to support them with better communication with their children and provide them with tools and strategies to cope with their children and enabling better parent and teacher communication which allows parents to understand the complexities within the educational system, which enables their children to reach their full potential.

Emily is currently working with Guys & St Thomas Hospital to provide Culturally Appropriate Counselling and Advocacy for Black People suffering from long term chronic ill health and Mental Health.

‘Everyone deserves the chance to be heard’.

Supt. Tom Naughton</span.

Met. Violent Crime Task Force

Supt. Tom Naughton

Met. Violent Crime Task Force

Every death as a result of violent crime is an utter tragedy, leaving lives destroyed and families heartbroken.  

The level of violent crime in London is clearly unacceptable.

Tom joined the Police Service in 2000, initially serving in Central London at BTP in both uniform and CID roles. During his service and progression to Superintendent, Tom has served in three forces at BTP, GMP and MPS. During 20 years of service, Tom has held portfolios and leadership responsibilities including specialisms in roads policing, operations, professional standards, criminal justice and offender management.

Tom has an array of experience in collaborating with partners, stakeholders and community leads and held operational, strategy and performance delivery roles. Successes include working collaboratively in leading cultural changes to procedure and training regarding fatality management on the railway network and later devising changes to the approved police practice concerning tactical contact in pursuits. The work significantly impacted on crime reductions in moped enabled crime thereby increasing public confidence.

With experience as a Bronze and Silver Public Order and Events Commander at both regional and national level, he is also trained in critical incident management and spontaneous firearms command. During his service he has also been part of the response to numerous high profile major and critical incidents across the UK in various leadership roles.

More recently, Tom has moved from Lambeth and Southwark Basic Command Unit (Central South BCU) to the Met’s Violent Crime Task Force (VCTF). He is now also the lead on people and wellbeing within Frontline Policing and has MPS wide portfolio responsibility for offender management.

Whilst originally from Bolton in the North West, Tom lives in Bromley with his wife and 2 children. He is a keen jogger and recently retired amateur footballer.

Bishop Mark Nicholson

ACTS Church

Bishop Mark Nicholson

ACTS Church, Croydon

Bishop Mark Nicholson is a sensitive and innovative mentor for some of the most troubled teenagers in our borough.

He shows great skill in coming alongside them and speaking on their level. He has given hope and opportunity to many families who had none. He works with them on behavioural issues, schooling, employment, family relations, peer relations, drugs and crime involvement. He has faced threats and attacks and has handled them professionally. He has shown great initiative in building trust with many young people who have been abused and neglected and have subsequently shut the door on all other professional services. If there is a way to get through to them, he will usually find it.

Bishop Mark is the Senior Pastor of Acts Christian Ministry; a church that is empowered by the Boldness of the Holy Ghost. It is perhaps, the first of its kind in Croydon with two churches coming together as one, intent on Kingdom Building. This new church, as in the book of ACTS, is modelled from ACTS 2: 41-47.

He is well versed, well travelled and has preached the Gospel of Jesus Christ transforming lives in several countries, notably South Africa, Nigeria, USA, Kenya and the Congo. Many opportunities have presented themselves as God continues to extend this ministry. Bishop Mark is an accomplished keyboard player and delights in playing the Hammond Organ, as well as playing the guitar and uses his musical ability to assist in taking praise and worship to a different level.

Bishop Mark serves the Community of the Borough of Croydon as a Magistrate appointed by the Lord Chancellor. He is determined to use his position to make a positive contribution to the community and encourage more people from ethnic minorities to join him as Justice of the Peace.

The Lord has raised up this visionary leader and anointed preacher and motivational speaker to speak LIFE into the body of Christ worldwide in the 21st Century and to deliver many through the power of the Holy Spirit from the shackles of bondage, poor self-worth and low expectations. God has so blessed Bishop Mark to venture into the avenue of TV Ministry…MANministries as seen on Faith TV. Bishop Mark aspires to effect change globally – empowering people on their daily journey, spiritually and economically giving new hope and encouragement to be all whom God has ordained them to be through his revealed word.

Sheldon Thomas - Founder and CEO of Gangsline

Sheldon Thomas

Founder & CEO, Gangsline

Sheldon Thomas

Founder & CEO, Gangsline

Sheldon Thomas is the Founder and Chief Executive of Gangsline. An inspirational and pioneering individual, Sheldon has an

unprecedented insight into gangs through his own experience as a leading gang member in the 1970s.

He now dedicates his life to engaging directly with gang leaders and members and using a ‘no holds barred’, yet spiritual, approach to changing young people’s lives and has been an advisor to the Home Office, New Scotland Yard and the Mayors Office on gang culture and violence.

Dame Claudine Duberry MA

Founder & CEO Taking Positive Steps

Dr. Claudine Duberry

Founder & CEO Taking Positive Steps 

The team at Taking Positive Steps is led by Claudine Duberry and committed to providing a tailored resettlement service  

to young people who are ostracised and excluded from society, as well as training and support to professionals and families.

Claudine is a proactive, disruptive and a thought-provoking criminologist, who is not afraid to challenge the theories around working and engaging with young people who display what society deems as “challenging behaviour”.

After being in the social work profession for over two decades, Claudine’s passion for working and engaging with children and young people remains as dynamic as ever. Claudine has a wealth of experience not just as a person who works with children and young people who display challenging behaviours, which has earned her an outstanding reputation for thinking outside of the box, but also as somebody who goes the extra mile to achieve positive outcomes with service users and commissioners.

The authenticity of Claudine’s dedication has earned her an exceptional reputation with the Metropolitan Police who have presented her with numerous commendations, one which was for her dedication to the community at the time of the longest siege in British Police history which took place in 2003, and lasted 15 days, and another for being proactive in the retrieval of firearms and live bullets from the community.

Claudine’s experience in social care has been underpinned by her personal and professional awareness as well as her creative approach to problem-solving. While you cannot fail to be impressed by Claudine’s expertise when handling complex and challenging cases, it is her meticulousness, drive and enthusiasm for the young people she works with that has proved most infectious and has earned her the respect that young people have for her.

Paul Canoville

Former Chelsea Footballer

Paul Canoville

Former Chelsea Footballer

During a spell in Borstal Youth Prison, Paul Canoville was encouraged to go for trials at Chelsea.  So on his release, Paul signed for

Hillingdon Borough, and went for trials at Southampton, Wimbledon, West Bromwich Albion and Chelsea. 

At the age of 21, John Neal offered him a professional contract and he became the first black player to play for Chelsea. Unfortunately, what should have become a dream come true soon turned into an appalling nightmare when he was subjected to vicious racial abuse from his own fans on his debut away at Crystal Palace. 

Today, Paul has been recognised for his work in the community with ‘Kick It Out’ which is English football’s equalities and inclusions organisation for positive change and he will soon be launching the ‘Paul Canoville Foundation’.

Emma Dent-Coad

Labour Cllr, Kensington & Chelsea

Emma Dent-Coad

Labour Cllr & Former MP

Before entering politics full time, Emma spent 30 years working as a journalist and researcher working in design, architecture 

and planning.  In her 13 years as a Councillor for Golborne Ward in North Kensington, she has challenged the Conservative led Council’s spending priorities and their plans for handing over public assets to private companies, by sale or lease. 

Four days after her election in 2017, the Grenfell Tower fire atrocity devastated the communities with huge loss of life.

Emma felt strongly and passionately that communities had to be empowered to take back control of their lives and to have access to their legal rights, their dignity, their freedom to thrive, and choice as they age and may need help to live independently. This applied to all parts of the social and economic spectrum.

Her work on the injustices surrounding housing of all kinds, particularly social housing and the dangers it can bring – not just fire safety, but dangers to physical and mental health – concerned her for many years before June 2017, and will undoubtedly do so for many years to come.

The Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea is the most unequal borough in Britain which is why Emma pledged to tackle the inequalities in life expectancy, income, physical and mental health, education and life chances which she found to be shameful in a first world country.  Emma’s personal values as a socialist have developed in this context. It’s simple: people should pay the full amount of tax they owe in the country in which their income is earned, and ensure employees are paid a decent wage.  In return they should expect to receive a level of pay they can live on, the services they’ve paid for, to be educated, and to receive health and adult social care free at the point of access when needed.

Emma will always stand with residents in the North, South, East and West of Kensington, against developments which threaten to destroy  neighbourhoods and communities, and against the loss of local assets and services and will also use all the influence she has to protect, maintain and improve the historic and listed buildings, conservation areas, parks and public realm, for the enjoyment of all residents and visitors.

STEVE GILLAN

GENERAL SECRETARY POA

Steve Gillan

General Secretary Prison Officers Assoc.

Steve is the General Secretary of the Prison Officers Association, a trade union that represents Prison Officer Grades,  

Operational Support Grades, and Psychiatric workers in Secure Hospitals.  He has been General Secretary since 2010 and has just won a third term of Office.  Previous to that he was the Union’s Finance Officer, Vice Chairman and Assistant General Secretary.

Originally from Greenock in Scotland as a child his family moved to Australia and then back to the UK where they settled in Basildon, Essex.

Steve had a variety of jobs when he left school at the age of 16 years of age including Banking, Retail, Ford Motor Company, and then the Prison Service where he championed and campaigned for workers’ rights eventually leading to him being elected to National level to continue representing POA members.  He describes himself as a working- class man who will never forget his roots and the struggles that working- class families such as his always had.  He believes that no one should ever be embarrassed about where they came from and indeed should be proud and champion their background.

All his qualifications were achieved outside of school at college night classes.  When he became General Secretary of the POA he was selected for a scholarship at Harvard University in Boston, USA where he studied “Leading Change” by some of the best Professors in the world. The six-week course was designed by leading Academics and Trade Unionists.  The aim was to give leading trade unionists the skills and knowledge to the same standards as Government officials.

Since becoming General Secretary he has been elected to the General Council of the TUC and also appointed onto the TUC Executive Committee.  He Chairs the TUC Trades Council Committee on whom he describes as the activists at the heartbeat of the trade union movement in our communities.

He was also recently appointed to the Central Arbitration Committee by the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) for a period of 5 years.

Steve has called for mentally ill people being diverted away from Prison and his personal belief is that Prisons in the UK are far too overcrowded and that more should be done by Government to divert young people away from a life of crime by investing in decent affordable homes, decent jobs and giving young people a sense of hope and value with a better education particularly in our inner cities.  He has seen over the last 30 years in the POA too many young lives being wasted in Prison with a revolving door.

Air Commodore Suraya Marshall, ADC MA LLB RAF

Commandant RAF College, Cranwell

Air Cdre. Suraya Marshall

Commandant RAF College, Cranwell

Air Commodore Suraya Marshall ADC MA LLB RAF grew up in York, graduating from the University of Nottingham with a Law 

degree and becoming a member of East Midlands University Air Squadron before joining the Royal Air Force as a Navigator in 1994.  During 3 tours flying on the Tornado F3, she participated in numerous operational deployments in Iraq, conducted Quick Reaction Alert in defence of the UK and the Falkland Islands, qualified as a Weapons Instructor and deployed on many overseas, multi-national training exercises.

Command appointments include Fast Jet Weapons System Officer Training, Officer Commanding No. 92(R) Squadron in the Air Warfare Centre responsible for operational Tactics & Training, Officer Commanding No. 55(R) Squadron delivering Rear Crew Flying Training and Deputy Commander of the Royal Air Force’s Intelligence, Surveillance, Target Acquisition and Reconnaissance Force. She assumed command of Royal Air Force College Cranwell in December 2019.

In operational command and control, she has worked with coalition partners in the Middle East Combined Air Operations Centre, where she was involved in the design and execution for the second Gulf War in 2003 and then in 2019 as the Director of Coalition Air Operations in Iraq, Syria, the Arabian Gulf, Afghanistan, the Gulf of Aden and the Red Sea.

Staff appointments include 3 years working in defence procurement, time in the Typhoon Force Headquarters delivering training transformation and defence sales, and 5 years spent working in the joint strategic environment, initially in the Operations Directorate of the Ministry of Defence (MOD) and latterly as Military Assistant to the Vice Chief of Defence Staff.  A graduate of Advanced Command and Staff Course (2009) and Higher Command and Staff Course (2019), she holds a Masters in Defence Studies.

Suraya is married to Air Vice-Marshal Al Marshall, a former Harrier and Sentinel pilot, who is currently AOC 1 Group. They have 2 young children, Ben and Sophie and in between work and school, the family enjoys spending as much time as possible together, travelling overseas and trying most outdoor activities, especially skiing, hiking, cycling and diving.

Yvette Williams MBE

Justice4Grenfell

Yvette Williams MBE

Justice4Grenfell

A long term activist and trade unionist, Yvette Williams has lived in Notting Hill for over 35 years.  She worked with the 

Mangrove Community Association and served as a Trustee for the Tabernacle Community Centre and the Pepper Pot Club (for Caribbean elders) in Notting Hill.
 
She is a founding member of Operation Black Vote. Yvette was head of Equality and Diversity for the Crown Prosecution Service in London for14 years, developing hate crime prosecution policies and community engagement strategies. She was awarded an MBE in the New Year’s Honours list in 2012 for services to criminal justice, highlighting her role as part of the prosecution team that secured the two convictions for the racist murder of Stephen Lawrence.
 
She is a co-founder of the Justice 4 Grenfell Campaign, and witnessed the fire on the night with her daughter after receiving a phone call from a friend who had been evacuated. The campaign has used a variety of media to ensure that the Grenfell Tower disaster remains in the public consciousness, and to remember the 72 men, women and children who lost their lives. 
 
Yvette has been a key speaker at many events including the Women of the World festival, the Justice Lecture at the GMB union conference and TEDx London. In October 2019 the Justice 4 Grenfell team won the Significant Contribution award as Woman of the Year, and in April 2020 the Campaign won the Education Category at the New York Film festival for the film ‘Grenfell and Social Murder’ which was co-produced with the Open University and Hamlett Films.
 
Yvette has written for and featured in a number of publications. She has recently been appointed as a trustee for Ruskin College, Oxford and currently sits on the TUC Race Taskforce.  In September 2020, Yvette featured on an iconic front fold out cover of British Vogue as one of 20 international social justice activists.

Introducing The BLAC Entertainers and Host

Meet our wonderful entertainers and host who will be keeping you entertained and informed throughout the night.

Monique McKen

BBC Gospel Singer of the Year 2021

Monique McKen

BBC Gospel Singer of the Year 2021

Monique was born in Birmingham (UK), to Pastor Clement Reid and Sonia Reid. As the youngest of their six children, she joined

the family band at the age of 3 years old.

The ‘Reid Family’ performed together at church services and concerts which gave Monique a solid foundation in both the church and its music.  Starting with Monique’s grandmother, Doris Nembhard (who was the church organist and Choir Director at Life and Light Fellowship Church for over 60 years), her family is rich in the heritage of Gospel music. 

As a teenager, Monique went through a rebellious phase and at the age of 15-16 she left church and home after deciding to follow her own path.

As the years went by, her relationship with God grew increasingly distant and singing was no longer a prominent part of her life.  In her mid-to-late 20s, Monique started singing again and accompanied various bands and local groups (both live & studio work), such as Grammy award-winning reggae band- Steel Pulse, Black Voices, China Black and Michael Bolton, to name a few.  However, because of her own personal struggles, she no longer found contentment in singing and her confidence suffered.

After Monique re-dedicated her life back to Christ, her desire was to use her gift to share the gospel, but her confidence was still affected by her past.  Monique found security in singing alongside other people, groups, and choirs but felt more at home singing with her big sister Denise Wilson, who is an accomplished pianist and one of Birmingham’s best Choir Directors, and also beside her big brother Reed Bass, who is one of the UK’s leading bassists.

In recent years Monique finally submitted to God’s unique call and decided to go solo.  By putting her confidence in God instead of her own ability, Monique now boldly ministers in song wherever she goes.

Most recently, Monique was crowned BBC’s Songs of Praise first Gospel Singer of the Year 2021.

Monique is married with four children and is a member of Life and Light Fellowship Church, in Birmingham.  In 2008 she graduated from the Birmingham City University with a Bachelor of Laws degree (with honours) and practiced in Family Law for a number of years before venturing into Youth Work.

In 2014, Monique and her husband Glen started a Christian-led youth project called CRIB 3:16. The project was set up to help inner-city young people make positive choices, access education, and employment opportunities and, navigate their life with a sense of purpose.  

Monique is also currently working on her debut EP which will include both traditional and contemporary gospel songs and is expected to be released in the late summer of 2021.

 

Royal Air Force Squadronaires

The Band plays by permission of the Defence Council

Royal Air Force Squadronaires

The Band plays by permission of the Defence Council

Royal Air Force Squadronaires.          Leader: Sergeant Matt Walker, BA (Hons) LRSM LTCL DipABRSM. 

Royal Air Force Music Services (RAFMS) was established in 1918 by Sir Henry Walford Davies and comprises three Regular Bands, a Salon Orchestra and a Reserve Band. Based at RAF Northolt and RAFC Cranwell, RAFMS provides optimum musical support for the Royal Air Force in order to enhance public perception, support State Ceremonial and achieve influence to further Defence and National interests.

The origins of the Royal Air Force Squadronaires can be traced back to 1939 when many of London’s professional musicians were recruited into the Central Band of the RAF. Amongst these iconic musicians were trombonist George Chisolm, vocalist Jimmy Miller and clarinettist Harry Lewis who later married the late Forces’ Sweetheart, Dame Vera Lynn – an association the band has been proud to honour to this day. They were the featured Big Band on the 2017 Gold Certified album ‘Vera Lynn 100’, the house band at her 100th birthday tribute concert at the London Palladium, and on the 2020 top 40 album ‘Vera 1917-2020’.

In their early years, the RAF Squadronaires gained a reputation for versatility and flair, soon developing a distinctive style that rivalled many American bands. This reputation continues to this day with one of their proudest moments coming in 2010 when the Band reached the top ten in the UK’s album chart with ‘In the Mood’, and when, in 2018, the Band travelled to Washington D.C. to share the Strathmore Hall stage with their United States Air Force counterparts, the famed Airmen of Note.

The Band are regularly featured on television with appearances at events such as the Royal British Legion’s Festival of Remembrance, most recently collaborating with Sir Tom Jones.

RAF Musicians perform around the world to represent the proud heritage of the RAF whilst demonstrating their musical excellence. Together with supporting local communities and Service charities, Musicians connect with and mentor thousands of children through annual school concert projects and youth outreach workshops. Alongside musical duties, Musicians are regularly deployed on operations in support of troops around the world, and as part of the Government’s response to the Coronavirus crisis, were mobilised to support public services across the UK.

Nzinga Soundz

Musical Entertainment

Nzinga Soundz

Musical Entertainment

Nzinga Soundz was established in the early 1980s by Lynda Rosenior-Patten and June Reid. The sound has played at

concerts, corporate events and community-based events across the UK and in the Gambia, Barbados and Sierra Leone. Rosenior-Patten and Reid have also presented papers at conferences at Goldsmiths University, the University of East Anglia, and Birmingham City University.

Dr. Claudine Duberry

Host

Dr. Claudine Duberry

Host

The team at Taking Positive Steps is led by Claudine Duberry and committed to providing a tailored resettlement service

to young people who are ostracised and excluded from society, as well as training and support to professionals and families.

Claudine is a proactive, disruptive and a thought-provoking criminologist, who is not afraid to challenge the theories around working and engaging with young people who display what society deems as “challenging behaviour”.

After being in the social work profession for over two decades, Claudine’s passion for working and engaging with children and young people remains as dynamic as ever. Claudine has a wealth of experience not just as a person who works with children and young people who display challenging behaviours, which has earned her an outstanding reputation for thinking outside of the box, but also as somebody who goes the extra mile to achieve positive outcomes with service users and commissioners.

The authenticity of Claudine’s dedication has earned her an exceptional reputation with the Metropolitan Police who have presented her with numerous commendations, one which was for her dedication to the community at the time of the longest siege in British Police history which took place in 2003, and lasted 15 days, and another for being proactive in the retrieval of firearms and live bullets from the community.

Claudine’s experience in social care has been underpinned by her personal and professional awareness as well as her creative approach to problem-solving. While you cannot fail to be impressed by Claudine’s expertise when handling complex and challenging cases, it is her meticulousness, drive and enthusiasm for the young people she works with that has proved most infectious and has earned her the respect that young people have for her.