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Operation Black Vote AM Shadowing Scheme participants to graduate

The National Assembly for Wales and Operation Black Vote Assembly Member Shadowing Scheme for 2007/2008 will come to a close on Wednesday July 2nd with a graduation ceremony at the Wales Millennium Centre.

The scheme, which was launched in October 2007 saw nine BME people from all over Wales shadowing Assembly Members from all four main parties. The project, aimed at encouraging those from BME communities to participate in the democratic process and increasing the number of BME AMs, followed on from successful MP, Magistrate and Councillor shadowing schemes.

The participants, who come from a wide range of BME communities, shadowed AMs for a minimum of eight days over a six month period in order to gain experience of life as an Assembly Member, and to help Assembly Members understand the needs of their BME constituents. Many however spent far more time working with their mentors and have benefited hugely from the scheme. One participant, Mari Rees, has already been chosen as a prospective parliamentary candidate and several others stood as candidates in the 2008 local elections. The scheme also won a Channel 4 Political Award for Democracy.

The Assembly’s Presiding Officer Lord Dafydd Elis-Thomas will speak at the graduation ceremony, along with Simon Woolley, Director of Operation Black Vote, and Ann Jones, AM, Chair of Equality of Opportunity Committee

Lord Elis-Thomas said: “I look forward to formally marking the completion of Operation Black Vote’s Assembly Member Shadowing Scheme. I congratulate the shadowing participants that have participated in and have now graduated from the scheme and the Assembly Members who participated in this innovative project. The experience has benefited both the Assembly and the shadowing participants. Shadowing participants have observed Assembly committee meetings, sat in on internal party meetings, observed Members at work in their constituency surgeries and visits. In turn, the Assembly has learnt how we can improve engagement with our local communities in the work of the Assembly and how we might address the democratic deficit in BME participation.”

More information about Operation Black Vote

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