National Black Role Model Programme Launched

Top business men, journalists, servicemen, a fire-fighter, lawyers and media experts are amongst the twenty individuals being named 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 twenty role models to form the first national group of its kind - to help raise the aspirations and attainment of Black boys.

The role models from a wide range of occupations and many different parts of the country include an army officer, a barrister, a TV weatherman, a fire fighter, a royal navy engineer, top business consultants and entrepreneurs, a teacher, local council leaders, a probation officer, accountants and finance experts, a civil servant and a TV presenter and were selected because of their outstanding abilities to inspire, lead and connect with young 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."

Ms Blears added: "That is why I am delighted by the calibre and diversity of the role models that have put themselves forward. Each of these men has faced challenges and barriers, but through skill, determination and hard work they have succeeded. Now they have a chance to tell their stories and show that success and recognition are there for the taking - if only young people reach for them. "

Hazel Blears will also announce today that the role model group and REACH project overall will benefit from an additional £1 million investment, meaning funding for the work to raise the aspirations of Black boys will now total £2 million.

The role model group is being launched tonight at an event on London, and alongside Communities secretary Hazel Blears the event will be hosted by Kwame Kwei Armah and Baroness Scotland, and Minister for Higher Education David Lammy will also be attending. They will speak to an audience made up of the role models, the wider mentoring group, Parliamentarians, and many from the recently launched Black Power list.


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