Introducing the BLAC Awards VIP Presenters

A massive thank you to everyone who’s submitted a nomination or cast a vote…or both!

We’ve been totally blown away by the exceptionally high standard of entries and lucky for us we have, equally, our 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; serious youth violence, mental health, and grassroots role models!  These are the VIP’s who will be announcing the winners and presenting the magnificent awards on the night.

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

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.

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.

Sir Geoff Palmer

Emeritus Professor

Sir Geoff Palmer OBE

Emeritus Professor, Scotland

Sir Geof Palmer was born in St Elizabeth Palmer where he spent the first years of his life in Jamaica being raised by his  

eight aunts while his mother worked in London. Shortly before his 15th birthday, he was able to afford passage and come to join his mother in London.  Despite having lived most of his live in the UK Palmer does not forget his Jamaican roots and in 2018 the Jamaican government, in his own words, honoured him “beyond expectations”, by making Sir Palmer its first Honorary Consul in Scotland.’

Back in 1998, Palmer was award the prestigious American Society of Brewing Chemists Award of Distinction for his work and ground-breaking research in the brewery industry.  The award is considered by many to be the ‘Nobel Prize of brewing’ as it is only awarded when exceptional achievement has been shown. He was also the 1st European to receive the distinction.

Most consider one doctorate degree to be a huge achievement, Sir Palmer currently holds 6. He earned his first in 1967 for Edinburgh University. He then went on to be awarded four honorary doctorate degrees from Abertay University in 2009, the Open University in 2010, the University of the West Indies in 2015 and Heriot-Watt University in 2015.  The final doctorate degree has an extra level of prestige, in 1985 he was made a Doctor of Science, this accolade is a level above a Phd that is awarded in recognition of a substantial body of original research undertaken over the course of many years.

In addition to his academic achievements, Sir Palmer has long been a human rights activist and has been involved in efforts to improve education for ethnic minorities, as well as spoken out about slavery and race relations. He is currently president of the Edinburgh and Lothians Regional Equality Council, for all this work has received some of the UK’s highest civilian honours. In 2003 he was awarded an OBE and in 2014 he was knighted in the New Year’s Honours for his services to human rights, science and charity.  He said of receiving the honour, “It is a surprise and an honour which is due to the large numbers of people who have helped me over the years since I arrived from Jamaica in 1955,” he said. “It shows what you can achieve with the help of good people, modest ability and hard work.” 

Yvonne Davis

Headmaster, Oak View Primary School

Yvonne Davis

Headmaster, Oak View Primary School

Yvonne Davis is the daughter of the Windrush Generation, an Educationalist and Hertfordshire’s first Black Headteacher. 

She has been a Primary School Adviser and an Ofsted Inspector. In 2008 she returned to Headship to the challenge of amalgamating two failing schools successfully; the Lead Ofsted Inspector in 2009 said, ‘she was inspirational’. She is trained in counselling and is a Listener for the Samaritans.

Yvonne’s specialism is in the Early Years and Mental Health and is concerned about the number of children who cannot self-regulate posing behavioural problems and underachievement. Working with parents and carers, she has been able to draw awareness that they are the child’s biggest influencer and to empower parents she provides training on parenting and the education system. Yvonne observes and identifies young people that need early intervention to prevent social exclusion, in particular, those entering the transition stage into secondary school. Working with parent and child the importance of early upbringing on a child’s behaviour and mental health is made aware and how that affects their progress.

In spring 2020, Yvonne will be launching her Foundation with a colleague. The charities primary purpose is to improve the economic, social, educational opportunities and outcomes for individuals of African and Caribbean heritage in the United Kingdom: to develop their potential and capabilities to reduce educational and social disadvantage. The Foundation will empower parents in Early Years education to improve the long-term educational outcomes for their children. Parent’s knowledge and understanding of child development, social, physical, emotional and intellectual will be at the core of its activity. Education will be delivered through the form of conference and topic-specific workshops, network, collaborate with health professionals and signpost the community for support.

SNP Councillor, Graham Campbell

Glasgow City Council

Cllr. Graham Campbell

Glasgow City Council

Councillor Graham Campbell was elected as a Glasgow City Councillor for Springburn in May 2017 after 25 years of activism in 

housing campaigning, as a former public transport worker and being actively involved in all aspects of equality. He was elected to the Scottish National Party (SNP) NEC in October 2019 as the party’s first-ever BAME Convener where he is spearheading efforts to recognise and tackle institutionalised racism in Scotland, starting with the City, and is on the leading bodies of SNP Socialists & SNP Common Weal Group and on the party’s Social Justice & Fairness Commission. Cllr. Campbell was recently elected to the Musicians’ Union Scotland & Northern Ireland Committee for a 2-year term.

Wherever he goes, Cllr. Campbell always brings energy, dynamism and experience with his background in BAME community development, leading campaigns around poverty, active citizenship within African, Caribbean, Asian communities building close working relationships with refugee communities. He is also an active supporter of the Black Lives Matter movement in Glasgow and helped organise some of the first such events in 2015 at the time of the Ferguson rebellion.  

As an experienced charitable fundraiser, Cllr. Campbell has run a number of organisations including establishing Glasgow’s first African Caribbean Centre in 2009 and briefly worked for Anne McLaughlin MP as her community fundraiser 2015-2017 and has held a number of Policy Officer posts in the Third Sector with anti-racism charities including the Coalition for Racial Equality and Rights.

As Flag Up Scotland Jamaica Project Leader, he’s played a key role in Glasgow University’s acts of reparative justice as a review panelist for the 2018 report into slavery wealth from donations that built the Gilbert Scott building, establishing its £20m Caribbean Study Centre in partnership with University of the West Indies. In recognition of Scotland’s slavery legacy, Cllr. Campbell took part in the unveiling of the plaque recognising enslaved African’s contribution in the University Chapel and in renaming the new Glasgow University Student Hub as the “James McCune Smith” building. 

Cllr. Campbell is leading efforts for Glasgow City Council to formally recognise its slavery legacy by establishing a museum of ‘Slavery Empire and Colonialism’ as a member of its Education Committee and its Working Group on BAME Employment.

Through supporting children with autism; Care-experienced people; refugee rights and LGBTQI activism (including Trans rights) in Scotland, UK, and Jamaica;  lifelong anti-racism campaigner and consistent ally to feminists, his intersectional Black, Red & Green eco-socialist politics helps him to uphold the principles of self-organisation, mutual respect, and autonomy to build unity against all forms of institutionalised discrimination.

Dr. Jasmine Fulcher

Trustee, StreetDoctors

Dr. Jasmine Fulcher

Trustee, StreetDoctors

Jasmine is a Trustee at StreetDoctors and has been a volunteer with them since 2014 and in that time she has taken on various 

roles including Team Leader, research and development team lead, as well as delivering teaching sessions to young people across the country.

Jasmine was born and raised in South East London and is a junior doctor, qualified in 2019 and works in the NHS. She is the first doctor in her family, so as you can imagine, it was, and still is a big deal in her family. Before becoming a doctor, Jasmine was a registered nurse, also within the NHS and she is very proud of being a doctor and of her nursing background, but actually, when she left school, she wanted to be an actor.  She went to the BRIT school for performing arts and has a BTEC National Diploma in Theatre Arts.

Justice and inclusivity two issues she’s always been passionate about, which is why she believes so strongly in the work that StreetDoctors as a charity does; young people deserve to live a life free from fear and stigma.  Jasmine is aware that the work carried out by StreetDoctors, alongside other organisations, is helping little by little to create a world where young people are protected, respected and believe in their own power and potential.

StreetDoctors was born in 2008 in the socially conscious minds of some young medical students, and a youth offending team worker.  They were regularly involved in delivering CPR and first aid classes to local teenagers and noticed that 11-16 year olds had known someone who had been stabbed or shot or had been a victim themself and it was then that they decided to set out to educate young people about the consequences of carrying weapons through exploring attitudes to violence, including its true medical consequences.

StreetDoctors believe knowledge is power, so they equip young people at risk of youth violence with the skills to save lives in their communities and with the knowledge to make informed decisions about keeping themselves and others safe if they are bleeding or unconscious.  They use a peer to peer teaching approach delivered by their network of young healthcare volunteers (student nurses, paramedics and doctors) who work in partnership with criminal justice services, schools, pupil referral units, sports and community groups.

By putting young people at the centre of emergency first-aid provision, they empower young people to become part of the solution to youth violence, rather than just being seen as ‘part of the problem’.

Streetdoctors has now become a social movement with 22 teams in 17 cities across the UK and Ireland.

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 Poet and Radio Presenter

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.

Norman Lamb MP

Liberal Democrats MP for Norfolk

Sir Norman Lamb 

Former Lib. Dem. MP for Norfolk

Norman Lamb is a liberal democrat MP who is one of Britain’s most tireless mental health campaigners, an MP who doesn’t just pay lip
 
service to this most important of subjects and has promised to continue scrutinising mental health spending and service performance in North Norfolk, following the parliamentary launch of the Royal College of Psychiatrists’ new website ‘Mental Health Watch.’
Norman recently announced his decision to stand down at the next election and went on to state it has been an enormous honour to serve the people of North Norfolk in Parliament and has been very grateful for the trust people have shown in him.
 
 
david lammy

David Lammy MP

Labour MP for Tottenham

Rt. Hon David Lammy MP

Labour MP for Tottenham

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.

His Honour, Judge Richard Marks QC - Old Bailey Judge

His Honour, Judge Richard Marks

QC - Old Bailey Judge

His Honour R. Marks QC

Old Bailey Judge

The Queen appointed His Honour Judge Richard Leon Marks QC to be the Common Serjeant of London on the advice  

the Right Honourable Chris Grayling MP and has been based at the Central Criminal Court, The Old Bailey since 9 March 2015. 

The Common Serjeant of London is the second most senior permanent judge of the Central Criminal Court after the Recorder of London, acting as Deputy to that office, and sitting as a judge in the trial of criminal offences.  The Common Serjeant is also one of the Law Officers of the City of London Corporation, and performs certain functions at the election of city officers. 

His Honour Judge Richard Leon Marks QC has presided over a very many of the most high-profile cases in the United Kingdom.

Dr Maria Lenn

Founder & CEO, Suited & Booted

Dr Maria Lenn 

Founder & CEO, Suited & Booted

Maria is the CEO of ‘Suited & Booted’ (The Suited & Booted Centre Limited) a registered charity, based in the City of London, which

she founded in 2012.  After a childhood in Hackney, Maria left Uni with a PhD and did various things, from teaching TEFL and ESOL, both here and abroad, to organising conferences and events, but founding and running Suited & Booted has been the thing that has given her both the greatest challenge and the greatest sense of fulfilment.  

Suited & Booted helps vulnerable, unemployed and low-income men into employment by providing them with interview clothing, donated by companies and professionals.  Suited & Booted also provides interview advice and mentoring. In 2012 Suited & Booted helped about 800 men but now they help around 2,000 clients a year.

At Suited & Booted, they know that wearing a great suit or smart clothing can be an empowering, transformative experience, giving the self-esteem and confidence necessary to succeed at job interview and to get into employment. Stepping into a new suit or outfit not only changes the way others see you, but also changes the way you see yourself; when you feel and look your best, you create a positive first impression at your job interview.

So the service Suited & Booted offers is as much about transforming the confidence and morale of the men S&B helps, and to make them feel that they belong. It is not simply providing them with clothing.

The men S&B helps are all ‘vulnerable’ for one reason or another. They may be long-term unemployed, ex-services, ex-offenders, Care Leavers, perhaps homeless or in hostels. Some of them may have had good jobs before, but their lives have then fallen apart. They come to S&B when they have a job interview and S&B kits them out in a suit and gives them the confidence they need to succeed.

Suited & Booted has a brilliant team of volunteers, including some professional stylists. This is important, as they know which suits, from our donated stock, will make our clients look the very best for interview.

When our clients see themselves transformed and looking really good, you can see how their confidence grows and how positive their attitude becomes. They go to their interview feeling empowered, and over 60% are successful and get the job.

Dr. Duncan Bew

Clinical Director for Trauma and Acute Surgery

Dr. Duncan Bew

Clinical Dir. Trauma & Acute Surgery

Duncan Bew is a Clinical Director for Trauma and Acute Surgery at King’s College Hospital and is also an Honorary Trauma Consultant 

at St Mary’s Hospital in Paddington and developed and co-founded the charity ‘Growing Against Violence’ over the last decade.

The charity now delivers a violence and prevention and safeguarding curriculum in over 600 primary and secondary schools, as well as working with other charities, the Home Office, Public Health England, the Mayors’ Office, and the major trauma networks. On 8 September 2017 Duncan received a personal letter from the Prime Minister thanking him for his contributions to the voluntary sector with the Points of Light Award.

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

Evening Standard Campaigns Editor

David Cohen is Campaigns Editor and Chief Feature Writer at the London Evening Standard. He has led some of the paper’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.”

Bell Rebeiro-Addy

Labour Immigration MP

Bell Rebeiro-Addy MP

Labour Immigration MP

Bell Ribeiro-Addy is the newly elected Labour MP for Streatham who was born and raised on a council estate in Brixton Hill and is  

indebted to her community for shaping her for the better and she feels strongly that there is no other place like it for its long history of activism, community and faith.

Bell is a black working-class woman, Christian, and a lifelong socialist who grew up in a Labour family. She stands on a platform that might not get much love from many of the mainstream media, but she lives by the values of her community that has given her so much.

Before becoming an MP, Bell was chief of staff to Labour front-bencher Diane Abbott and also worked as a school governor at Saint Gabriel’s College in Camberwell in South London. She was the Labour candidate at the 2019 general election for Streatham, where she won with a majority of 17,690 ahead of second-placed Liberal Democrat candidate Helen Thompson; she succeeded Chuka Umunna as the seat’s MP, following his departure from Labour.

Bell is a member of Labour’s left-wing Socialist Campaign Group and has called out the role of the media in devaluing black female MPs, particularly regarding recent caption mixups.

In January 2020, Bell was appointed as Shadow Minister for Immigration, just weeks after her election as a Member of Parliament.

Supt. Claire Smart

Met. Violent Crime Unit

Supt. Claire Smart

Met. Violent Crime Unit

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 unacceptably high.

Superintendent Claire Smart works in the Operations for the Violent Crime Unit (OCU), and has been in policing for 20 years.  Superintendent Smart is a public order bronze commander and has spent all of her career in front line policing.

There is a new dedicated Violent Crime Taskforce of nearly 300 police officers focusing on the areas worst affected and is providing £15 million annually to support its operation.Since the VCTF was launched in April 2018 up until 19 December 2019, the command has carried out 12,633 weapons sweeps, recovered 1,391 knives, 918 offensive weapons and arrested 7,904 suspects

Over the same period, wider activity across the MPS targeting violence has seen 62,170 weapon sweeps carried out, with 4,545 knives recovered along with 2,168 offensive weapons.  The Met Police has introduced patrols using targeted stop and search for areas worst-affected by knife crime. City Hall investment has seen the roll out of body-worn video across the Met, which has resulted in a reduction in complaints even as the number of searches has increased.

With nearly 42,000 officers and staff, the Met is the UK’s largest police service and has 25% of the total police budget for England and Wales.  As such, it requires considered structure and division of disciplines and skills; with the aim of maintaining a finely tuned, cohesive organisation.

The Mayor of London, as occupant of the Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime (MOPAC) is required by law to produce a plan that explains how the police, community safety partners and other criminal justice agencies will work together to reduce crime.  MOPAC is the strategic oversight body tasked with devising the Police and Crime Plan and ensuring that it’s delivered over four years

Superintendent Claire Smart’s absolute passion is making the Met more diverse and believe that this is done by making it a more attractive place for people to work.  As the lead for ‘MetFamilies’she has been driving an agenda to make the Met a more family friendly place for parents to flourish – the key driver is to try and retain more women within the service.  In the last 20 years she has served all across West London, worked in a variety of proactive and reactive units, but some of the most fulfilling work has been in community policing; the ability to deliver direct improvements to quality of life.

The Mayor set up England’s first Violence Reduction Unit last year. This brings the police together with specialists from health, local government, probation and community organisations to tackle violent crime and the underlying causes of violent crime. The Unit is learning from counterparts in Glasgow, where a public health approach was successfully implemented over several years and led to a fall in violence and is investing £1.4 million to continue to provide youth workers in Major Trauma Centres, and place more youth workers in hospital A&E departments, to help steer young Londoners who have been involved in knife crime away from violence in the future

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.

Tony Warner - Founder of Black History Walks

Tony Warner

Founder of Black History walks

Tony Warner

Founder & CEO, Black History Walks

Tony is the founder and director of Black History Walks who run guided tours, walks and film nights that highlight influences and

vibrant multi-cultural inner city area of Brixton, South London who cater to men, women, and children of all skill fitness levels and their club requires

contributions by people of African descent to precolonial London and Europe. As well as a keen historian and community lecturer, Tony has been an activist for educational reforms for many years, believing that including contributions made by Africans to the curriculum raises the self and racial esteem of young people.
 
He has designed history courses for schools, the Met. police and a host of public sector organisations, focusing on narrative, discourse and media analysis to convey a more accurate view of history.
 
 

Leee John

Founder of Black History Walks

Leee John

Imagination

Celebrating over 30 years in the entertainment industry, Leee John has been an all round artist, singer, writer, record 
 

actor and recently a film producer.  Leee came to the world’s attention with his group Imagination which he founded in the early 80’s.  Imagination featuring Leee John now presents ‘Police and Thieves’ created for the 2018 Do it Right Now campaign which is a version of Junior Murvin’s 1977 hit tune ‘Police and Thieves’ inspired by Leee’s observations of the challenges facing young people today. 

His aim with this song is designed to assist in helping and supporting young people globally to make the right life choices and ultimately achieve their full potential and in turn becoming positive contributors to their communities and society as a whole.  The ‘Do it Right Now’ initiative is a campaign to enhance people to embrace the moment and make the most of life and acts as central focus point of a bigger global campaign.  

As well as featuring Leee John, it also features artists like Peter Andre, Lee Ryan, Natasha Hamilton, Newton Faulkner, Alexander O’Neil, Heather Small, Errol Reid, Andy Abraham, Patti Boulaye, Chico, Nonso Anozie, Ray Lewis, Jake Morell, London Community Gospel Choir, Judd Lander, Mel Gaynor.  

He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother Homeless Worldwide was formed to help coordinate the creation of a celebrity performed charitable single to raise money for homeless and veteran charities in London and the UK.

Leee is an Ambassador for SOS Children’s Villages, an international orphan charity providing homes and mothers for orphaned and abandoned children. He currently supports the charity’s annual World Orphan Week campaign which takes place each February.

Leee has recently appeared on the track “The Lost Chord” by Gorillaz for their Song Machine project, which was followed by the album Song Machine, Season One: Strange Timez.

Paul Anderson

CEO of Voyage Youth Charity

Paul Anderson MBE

CEO of Voyage Youth Charity

Paul Anderson MBE is an experienced CEO, consultant and director of the Notting Hill Carnival representing the Sound System 

community and has been the CEO of Voyage since 2014 and is passionate about young people and Carnival inspired by his involvement in the arts via traditional african drumming and Dance.

Voyage which is based in Hackney stands for Voice of Youth and Genuine Empowerment and work with young people aged 13 to 18 from several disadvantaged boroughs across North East London and offer a unique array of programmes including  structured workshops focused on empowerment, know your rights and stop & search.  

Paul is currently engaged in two EU projects in Lithuania and France exploring how young people with criminal justice backgrounds can be integrated into mainstream provision and another exploring ways to improve relationships between young people and the Police and is not afraid to have difficult conversations when it comes to challenging mainstream thinking and practice.

 
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

Dame 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’.

Leroy Logan MBE - Youth Violence Commission

Leroy Logan MBE

Youth Violence Commission

Dr. Leroy Logan MBE

Chair, Youth Violence Commission

Dr Leroy Logan MBE is a retired Superintendent who served 30 years in the Metropolitan Police Service including work 

on the 2012 Olympic Policing Coordination Team. He was a founder member and former Chair of both the Metropolitan and the National Black Police Association (BPA), which is still working to improve policing for the 21st century.

As a member of the Lawrence Steering Group he contributed to diversity in policing recruitment, retention and progression targets.

John Boyega is set to take the role of real-life Metropolitan Police officer and anti-racism reformer Leroy Logan in Steve McQueen’s upcoming anthology series ’Small Axe’.

The Star Wars actor will bring the story of Logan, who was motivated to reform the police from within after seeing his father assaulted by two officers, to the small screen for the first time.

Logan was awarded an MBE in 2000 for his contribution to policing and retired in 2013 after 30 years’ service and is also a former chairman and founder of the Black Police Association Charitable Trust.

The title Small Axe is derived from a Jamaican proverb which has resonance throughout the Caribbean, “if you are the big tree, we are the small axe”.

Small Axe is also the title of a Bob Marley song from his 1973 album Catch A Fire.

Patrick Phipps - Owner of Cut Above Barbers

Patrick Phipps

Owner of Cut Above Barbers

Patrick Phipps

Owner of Cut Above Barbers

Patrick Phipps, is a twice published novelist and owner of the Cut Above Barber Academy. This Award-winning course

 director has an impressive track record which spans over two decades of teaching young people who wish to be barbers, many of whom are now successful business owners and stylists.

His first published book was Twisted Lanes, an urban, gritty and emotional tale inspired by real life in the streets of East London. Phipps is now on a mission to create a special braille edition of the book for blind and visually impaired BME adults.

Sanchia

Sanchia Alasia

Former Mayor Barking & Dagenham

Sanchia Alasia

Former Mayor Barking & Dagenham

Sanchia was a student governor at her last university and was elected to become the first Black vice president of her student 

union and is also an active member of the Fabian Society, Co-operative Party and her trade unions, UNISON and GMB.  Sanchia was elected as a Labour Councillor in May 2010 in Barking and Dagenham for Alibon ward to become the youngest woman on the council and was re-elected for a second term in May 2014 and at the same time serving the borough as a school governor in a local primary school.

Sanchia was one of the Labour Party candidates for the European elections in 2014 and 2019 in the London region and served as Mayor of the London Borough of Barking and Dagenham from May 2018 to May 2019.

Tesfa Green

The Jaden Moodie Movement

Tesfa Green

The Jaden Moodie Movement

The Jaden Moodie Movement is run by Jaden’s mother Jada Bailey (CEO/Founder). Since Jaden’s death on the 8th January 

2019, the family felt compelled to act and after seeing the effects on the young people that knew Jaden. They have partnered up with ‘Gangs Unite’, ‘Spark2life’, ‘Swash Car’ and ‘Nature’s Playground’ and have provided a safe place for vulnerable children and also incorporate a holistic approach to education for young people.

Families also need support with trauma informed intervention programs and JMM are in the process of putting workshop’s together and have also called for a freeze to school exclusions which have involved meetings with Mayor of London Sadiq Khan, Chief of police Cressida Dick, MPs, local authorities and grassroots organisations as their fight continues to ensure other families will receive the help and support they deserve.

Jaden’s case received a lot of media attention that put extra pressure on the family. While dealing with the national printed and televised press, Tesfa has established strong contacts with the Guardian, ITV and Channel 4 in particular.

As the Managing Director of JMM Tesfa, who has a Youth Justice and Management background and has worked with vulnerable children for the last five years, oversees all Jaden Moodie Movement activities from campaigning to press and media .  The JMM is made up mostly of family members and they have each used their skills and expertise to build the foundations of the Movement.

The JMM has four outlets based in London, Nottingham, Gambia and Jamaica all working together to provide a safer community for our young people.

tony

Tony Cealy

Arts Practitioner and Activist

Tony Cealy

Arts Practitioner and Activist

Tony Cealy is a drama facilitator, theatre practitioner, arts activist and creative producer who makes projects and 

programmes designed to engage the public in issues that are important for social and behavioural change, he uses drama and theatre to encourage self-awareness and to assist individuals in exploring the idea of change and the impact that it may have on their lives, personal behaviour, choice, responsibility and broader social, economic and political factors. 

This is achieved by looking at the causes and consequences of the actions that have led them to act or offend.  Tony works across London delivering training to young people in the use of role play and interactive theatre techniques for creative ‘round table‘ workshops with officers and staff from Metropolitan police.

Shelby Bootle - Bridge The Gap Studios

Shelby Bootle

Bridge The Gap Studios

Shelby Bootle

Bridge The Gap Studios 

18 year old Shelby Bootle from Peckham in South East London spent her final year at college studying Performing Arts and is 

deeply passionate about working with young people, especially through Performing Arts, which allows them to create a safe platform for them to create and express as well as a platform for their voices to be heard and listened to. Shelby has worked as a volunteer with Bridge The Gap Studios, taking on the book “Silent Voices” written by Johnathan Toy, and creating a new play that is based on real stories of young people and the struggles they are facing.

In 2018, Shelby had a great opportunity to perform in Parliament in hand with the Youth Violence Commission and has also volunteered with the exclusive theatre company ‘Angel Shed Theatre’ for children aged 5-16.  Angel Shed allows children to be themselves, allow their imagination to come out and to be proud of what they can achieve together. 

Shelby is currently part of a PTSD vs. Culture campaign at BTG, with aims of raising awareness around trauma that young people experience as a result of exposure to violence out of and inside the home.  The aim of the campaign is to open up healthy conversations around youth violence and ways to tackle the trauma that young people experience a lot of the time before even picking up a knife. A campaign  culminating a showcase is due to take place at a future date.

Jayvon Morgan

Youth Director, 84 Youth

Jayvon Morgan

Youth Director, 84Youth

Jayvon is 22 years of age and lives in Moss Side, Greater Manchester, a community notorious for gang violence well before he 

was born.  Unfortunately this narrative has remained even when the violence reduced and is used by both the media and Greater Manchester Police to use oppressive policing with the over use of unfair tactics such as the legal doctrine of Joint Enterprise and Stop and Search. 

Although the ‘gang’ is no longer what it was previously, due to the historical narrative many young people experience hostility from not only the police but also other institutions such as the Criminal Justice System and Education.  These all impact on the life chances available to young people from the community and often they find it easier to live down to the expectations of others.

Jayvon and the rest of the 84YOUTH team have experienced loss both through serious youth violence and racial bias within the justice system.  This is why 84YOUTH was formed as there was little scope within the current youth service to challenge issues such as these due to both funding and management restrictions.  Jayvon now uses his position to address youth violence indirectly and directly through events such as open mic nights and podcasts.  Both platforms give young people a voice where it really matters and as they are young person-lead, the audience and listeners feel a genuine affinity, instilling ownership of the projects increasing positive participation. 

84YOUTH are in the process of developing a Becoming A Man (BAM) Project that can be adapted for different groups and Jayvon is central to this due to his experiences.  BAM will allow young men to explore their emotions and feelings in a safe space to counteract the idea of masculinity and encourage young men to learn a new concept of manhood, challenge the stereotypes forced on them by society and increase resilience enabling them to make more informed choices. 

The number 8 is very significant to 84YOUTH and so our projects fall under ILLUMIN8YOUTH, CELEBR8YOUTH and LIBER8YOUTH.  On the 8th day of the 8th month 2017, 10 young men who had no knowledge that one of the group was carrying a knife were jailed with long sentences through Joint Enterprise as the ‘gang’ narrative was firmly planted in the court room through historical evidence that had no relevance other than the neighbourhood where these young men lived.  That same evening, a group of young men from another central area attacked Jayvon and his friends who were out grieving for their friends following the verdicts and stabbed  four of Jayvon’s friends which resulted in the death of another great friend, Sait Mboob.  

Jayvon wants to ensure his children don’t have to face the same obstacles that he and his friends have faced which is the reason he was instrumental in setting up the organisation.

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.

His Excellency Seth George Ramocan - Jamaican High Commissioner

His Excellency Seth George Ramocan

Jamaican High Commissioner

His Exc. Seth G Ramocan

Jamaican High Commissioner

His Excellency High Commissioner Seth George Ramacon, as head of the Mission, is responsible both to the Government of 

Jamaica and to the United Kingdom. He participates in the formation of Mission policy and its execution.

The High Commissioner’s primary aim is to foster, maintain and improve co-operation between Jamaica and these countries, as well as to develop trade, economic and tourism links.

The High Commissioner also maintains contact with Jamaican nationals living in the UK through regular visits to communities, meetings, and functions.

Yvette Williams MBE

Justice4Grenfell

Yvette Williams MBE

Justice4Grenfell

Yvette MBE has lived in North Kensington for over 30 years she previously worked with the Mangrove Community Association 

and has served tenure as Community Centre and the Pepper Pot Club. She is also a founding member of operation black vote – a national campaign encouraging BME communities to engage in the democratic process to get their voices heard and has worked with a number of campaigns including those for Stephen Lawrence and Frank Critchlow.  Yvette has a professional background working in Education and Criminal Justice.

Both Yvette and her daughter witnessed the fire at Grenfell Tower; after being alerted by a family friend who was evacuated from one of the walkways.

Introducing The BLAC Entertainers and Host

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

Isaac & Friends

African Drummers

Isaac & Friends

African Drummers

Isaac & Friends will entertainment you with drumming, floor shows and acrobatic gymnastic displays which will blow your mind.

The drummers are from various African backgrounds. Isaac & Friends believe that understanding one’s heritage and the heritage of others can help one find direction and understanding of who they are. Their performances are dedicated to bringing people together in a fun and educational environment.

 

Megumi Mesaku

Saxophonist

Megumi Mesaku

Saxophonist

Japanese saxophonist Megumi “Miss Megoo” Mesaku fell in love with reggae music as a teenager. Since then she has travelled 

the world, enticing audiences with her instrumental renditions of reggae classics. She has toured the United Kingdom and Caribbean but her most memorable experiences have been in Jamaica.
Mesaku also plays the keyboard and has worked with some of Jamaica’s top reggae stars, including The Skatalites, The Pioneers, Alton Ellis, Derrick Morgan, Prince Buster, Ken Boothe, Max Romeo, Big Youth, Dennis Alcapone, Little Roy, Winston Francis and Roy Shirley.

Danny Johnson

Poet

Danny Johnson

Spoken Word Poet

Danny is from Brixton in South London and has been involved in The Black Men’s Mental Health Group Theatre Production since it’s

conception in November 2019. Danny has always been involved in drama and music and has personalised popular and well-known tracks from the 80’s, switched it into poetry, and made it relevant to today’s problems.
Danny has always worked to help drug users and did outreach work in London, reaching out to those affected by mental health and housing issues and has also assisted people who’d just come out of prison especially with the under 18’s and he also has valuable links with the probation and prison service.

Rob Neil OBE

Host

Rob Neil OBE

Host

Rob was born in Paddington, London and grew up in the London Borough of Brent. He joined the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) then 

Lord Chancellors Department in Oct 1983 – starting at Willesden County Court in North London and progressed to Deputy Court Manager before joining the MoJ’s South Eastern I.T. Team.

In 1998, Rob landed his dream job with MoJ’s Corporate HR as a Development Trainer. Rob studied at the Civil Service College for two years, gaining a Certificate in Training Practice (CTP) and is now a member of CIPD.

Rob was a founding member of the MoJ’s BAME Staff network in 2001, namely P.R.O.U.D. and later in that same year, he became the first elected Chair of the Civil Service Race Equality Network (CSREN), known today as CSRF, the Civil Service Race Forum.

Over the past fifteen years Rob has continued his MoJ career in HR. As an original member of the MoJ’s Employee Engagement Team, he led the design, recruitment and launch of the Engagement Champions Network in 2008. As MoJ’s Head of Engagement Networks he was responsible for the development of Employee Engagement Champions (EECs) across the MoJ. This pioneering network now boasts over 1000 people across the entire MoJ Family – including; Courts, Tribunals, Prisons and the Legal Aid Agency.

In the summer of 2015 Rob was invited to lead the MoJ’s Diversity & Inclusion Team over the summer as temporary cover for four months. During this period Rob led the delivery of key priorities, including the Department’s response to the Civil Service Talent Action Plan and renegotiating contracts with all Diversity Staff Networks.

In April 2016, Rob was included in the ‘New View 50’ which recognises influential Black Asian Minority Ethnic (BAME) professionals in the public sector.

In May 2016, Rob was chosen to lead the MoJ’s Race Project – an inward facing programme of work aimed at supporting the MoJ’s published Diversity & Inclusion objectives and turning the dial on race equality. 

In September 2016 Rob was elected Chair of the Civil Service Race Forum. The Civil Service Race Forum (CSRF) is an umbrella network of BAME Staff Networks across the civil service made up of over 30 Government departments, reaching over 6,000 BAME civil servants working at all levels. Rob ended his one year tenure as Chair of CSRF in January 2018 and continued to support the CSRF Executive Committee as Non-Executive Director (NED) until January 2019 where he then chaired the MoJ’s Diverse Leaders Taskforce in support of the Civil Service Diversity and Inclusion Strategy until March 2019. After 35yrs at the MoJ, Rob departed in April 2019 to support the Department for Education (DfE) with Embedding Culture Change as part of Transformation.

Rob has been a Trustee with RELATE for eleven years and also volunteers as the Social Media Director with the Reach Society.

Rob was awarded an OBE in the 2018 New Year’s Honours list for his ‘Services to Race Equality in the workplace and the community’ and received his medal from the Queen at Buckingham Palace in May 2018. Later in the same year Rob became the inaugural winner of Investing in Ethnicity’s Workplace Hero Award in November 2018 before successfully graduating from the Civil Service Future Leaders Scheme in January 2019.

Rob lives with his wife and their two children in Harrow.