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Faces of the community

FIRST STEPS: Marcia Hutchinson MBE, front centre, with attendees of The Pipeline Project at Chuck Gallery in Manchester

DESPITE THE fact that there are 11.3 per cent residents of African Heritage in the borough of Manchester, there is a stark lack of representation in local politics.

Astounded by this fact, one resident is rallying the black community to get involved and represent their communities. Marcia Hutchinson MBE is a women’s officer at the Whalley Range Branch of the Labour Party. She came to live in Manchester in 2012,
but was surprised at the lack of mainstream political involvement in the black
community.

Marcia describes herself as a passionate advocate for cultural diversity; regularly writing and speaking on issues of education, race and gender equality and discrimination.

“Manchester has 32 wards and 96 councillors, of which 95 are Labour. Only three councillors are of African heritage, yet we make up almost 15 per cent of the city’s population. This lack of political representation has often meant social, economic and cultural exclusion for our communities,” she said.

A determination to spark change led Marcia to set up The Pipeline Project, which aims to support people from the Manchester African Heritage community to become councillors by ensuring that they have the skills and experience to be successful in their applications.

Over the course of 2018, Marcia will be hosting a series of meetings to help prepare people for representing their local community as a councillor by providing training, advice, networking and support. The first session was held recently at the Chuck Gallery, which is an art space in Manchester dedicated to the promotion of modern and contemporary African art.

Matters covered on the day included the structure of local politics and the steps required to be put forward as a councillor.

“The first day exceeded expectations. Seven people attended ranging from those who are not a member of any political party to those with in-depth policy experience,” Marcia said.

“The black-owned Chuck Gallery was a wonderful space in which to hold the course, surrounded by great African heritage art. I need people willing to go and knock on doors and do all they can to become a councillor. It is a practical course on how to do the things required to get selected.”

Attendees will gain invaluable experience in completing their application, the interview process and canvassing. Attendee Juliette Maynard, age 39, from the Burnage area of Manchester currently works for the Public Sector as a project manager.

She said: “The meeting was inspiring and gave me a good feeling we could achieve something. Every single person that attended had something to offer that was unique. It revealed the richness that we have out there in our community that is not being tapped into.”

Anyone interested in training to become a Councillor should get in touch with Marcia via the Facebook page: The Pipeline Project.

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