I identify with a number of communities unique for their members, purpose and scale, my: family; political party; work place; local geographical communities. They’re all ever changing. Sometimes I feel a little isolated because of the absence of community. I’ve moved around a bit due to study, work and family breakdown in childhood, and although I’ve enjoyed white privilege in appearance, my family’s mixed heritage and economic background has sometimes made it hard for me to find my place within the social and class structures of my communities.
I consider Birmingham to be my main community; unique for its truly multicultural blend of different religions, ethnic backgrounds, cultural identities, sexualities and otherwise.
There is a great degree of tolerance, and growing up in the city, it had elements of an ideal multiculturalism. Some of that survives. But this is under strain; cultural tensions over sexuality; poverty-induced resentment; scapegoating of immigrants; youth violence born from social inequalities; media manipulation; and the weaponising of Brexit.
But, there’s a sense of consensus over the social activism required: a vibrant community of environmental advocates; a sense we are on the cusp of economic regeneration; and calls for cultural investment through youth services or the arts. It feels like my community is at a pivotal juncture.
I work hard to listen to the voices of people who are frequently ignored, by shining a light of lived experience to help shape policy.
I’m also a political activist in my community; calling for social investment to address the domestic abuse, mental health struggles, poverty and substance misuse that leads to crime and disharmony in neighbourhoods.
Having started out as a business lawyer turned charity lawyer, I‘m now the Strategic Adviser to an elected Police & Crime Commissioner.
I’m studying a part-time PhD into the role of deliberative democracy for shifting public opinion in favour of early intervention solutions to crime, particularly around addressing child abuse or trauma.
I don’t really have any special talents, but I’m a nippy little runner.
I’m starting to understand how complex the idea of community is, and its many forms. I’m eager to learn more from the people on the Board - the intricacy of human socialisation fascinates me.
I hope my professional and personal experiences allow me to contribute some original perspectives to the Institute’s work.