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Jing Liu Deng discovers Operation Black Vote's Shadowing Scheme

November 23, 2008 12:00 PM

Selected as the only member of the Chinese community to take part in a Councillor Shadowing scheme at Liverpool Council this summer, Jing Liu Deng shares her experience working with Liberal Democrat Councillor, Karen Afford.

Extracts from her journal:

"I first got to know Operation Black Vote (OBV) through the Internet, when I tried to find some information about working with minority ethnic groups in Liverpool. The Shadow Councilor Scheme is a wonderful program, which promotes equality in politics by tackling the under-representation of Black and Minority Ethnic (BME) Communities in the local council chamber. I considered it a good opportunity to gain some experience and a better understanding of the social and political system."

"At present, just one of the 90 councilors in Liverpool is from a black and minority ethnic group, meaning that the city's elected members are not representative of Liverpool's diverse communities. This reflects research nationally which shows the average councilor is a white man aged 58."

"Since the start of the program, my mentor Cllr Karen Afford has arranged me to spend some time learning how the council works, and about all aspects of the decision-making process and the responsibilities of a councilor. Also she allowed me to observe her in 'surgeries' in her constituency. I was impressed by her efficiency: she responded with solutions to the issues raised by individual residents within just two to three days."

"This OBV Scheme has opened my eyes to the work of the local political system. I began to realize the importance of a councilor's job: it affects people's daily lives today and tomorrow."

Jing is hopeful in her conclusion:

"The Chinese community will one day begin to integrate, serve and vote. They will make a difference, and they will be involved in decisions made by the council which impact on the community and other people around us."