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National Role Models

A national programme to tackle low aspirations

03 December 2008. Brochure contains the biographies of the 20 national role models selected for a national programme to tackle a culture of low aspirations and low attainment among some black boys and young black men.

Top business men, journalists, servicemen, a fire-fighter, lawyers and media experts amongst others have unveiled in the first-ever national role model programme for Black boys and young Black men, by Communities Secretary Hazel Blears today.

Following a nationwide recruitment campaign, well over 200 applications from successful Black men across the country were received. The REACH panel comprising fashion designer and businessman Ozwald Boateng, entrepreneur and winner of the Apprentice Tim Campbell, founder and Director of Operation Black Vote Simon Woolley and Metropolitan Police Superintendent and founder of the Black Police association Leroy Logan selected the final 20 role models to form the first national group of its kind – to help raise the aspirations and attainment of Black boys.

Communities secretary Hazel Blears said:
“The election of Barack Obama and Lewis Hamilton’s recent success is a powerful signal to young people that they can achieve. But for many they will still be the men on the telly, removed from their day to day to lives, whose achievements exist in a world beyond theirs. “The REACH role modelling programme was about finding a way of making a more relevant connection. Nurturing ambitious, realistic aspirations by showing young Black men that they can achieve in any and every walk of life they can imagine.”

One of the role models, Clive Lewis, who is a TV reporter/presenter and army officer in the Territorial Army said:
"I know only too well how difficult it can be to make your way as a Black man through the pitfalls life throws up in front of you. Fortunately I had a father to help guide me. Not everybody is as fortunate and maybe that’s where I can help."

All 20 of the successful role models have an inspiring story to tell and come from many different backgrounds – from growing up in socially and economically deprived areas across the UK, to growing up in Nigeria. Some have experienced racism. Some have experienced trying times in their younger years, seeing friends go down the wrong route and getting into trouble with police and experiencing pressure to join gangs. But all, with drive and determination have gone on to achieve despite the challenges that many young Black men can face.

The REACH report highlighted a number of barriers preventing some Black boys from fulfilling their full potential and recommended that these be tackled together to bring about the changes that are needed. The Government is currently taking action to:

  • improve engagement between schools and Black parents – Government and community leaders are currently looking into establishing home school partnership agreements to take place in schools across the country. These and other programmes are to engage parents with schools and will be looking at how best to meet the needs of Black families
  • strengthen the reporting and monitoring of race equality and schools – Ofsted has reviewed, revised and published new guidance for inspectors which will strengthen the way that it reports on race equality issues including drawing attention to good practice and highlighting inequalities
  • supporting Black led Voluntary and Community Sector organisations – These are often the organisations working most closely with young Black men at risk of dropping out

Link to REACH: National Role Models Biographies

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