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Khan appoints first ever black female deputy mayor of London

PICTURED: Debbie Weekes-Bernard (Image: Debbie Weekes Bernard/LinkedIn)

DEBBIE WEEKES-BERNARD, policy and research manager at the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, has become the first black woman to be appointed as deputy mayor of London.

Weekes-Bernard will succeed Matthew Ryder QC, who announced on Friday he would be stepping down from his role as deputy mayor for social integration, social mobility and community engagement.

The former head of research at the Runnymede Trust, Weekes-Bernard said: "I’m excited to be joining Sadiq and his team and continuing to develop the vital work City Hall is doing to boost social integration and improve Londoners’ life chances. This is an issue that touches all of us, and I’m committed to working with Sadiq to tackle the inequalities in our city and achieve a truly integrated society.”

Khan said: “I’m delighted that Debbie Weekes-Bernard has agreed to be London’s new Deputy Mayor for Social Integration. Debbie brings with her a wealth of experience, having spent years working to tackle poverty and inequality. I know she will do a great job in bringing together our diverse communities and ensuring that all Londoners feel a key part of our city.”

For the last two years, Weekes-Bernard has led policy and research at the Joseph Rowntree Foundation. Her roles involves commissioning and managing research and projects on poverty, ethnicity and education. She is also a trustee for the Equality and Diversity Forum.

Ryder is leaving his post in November to continue his legal career on a full-time basis.


STEPPING DOWN: Matthew Ryder (third from left) will leave his role as deputy mayor in November

He said: “It has been a great privilege to work for Sadiq as London’s first deputy mayor for social integration. I’m incredibly proud of the successes we have achieved and to have played a part in creating a ground-breaking strategy to improve social integration in our capital. It had never been my intention to give up my role as a lawyer permanently and, after two years, this feels the right time to return to my full-time career. I’m grateful to Sadiq for this amazing opportunity to be a part of his team and I look forward to working together again in the future.”

The mayor of London Sadiq Khan, has paid tribute to Ryder’s contributions over the last two years.

He praised him for forging strong relationships across London’s diverse communities and the key role he played in developing the mayor’s ground-breaking strategy to address social integration in London.

Khan said: “I’d like to thank Matthew for his excellent work over the last two years – his skills and experience have made him a valuable and integral part of my team. We have worked hard to tackle the barriers to social integration and the inequalities that our city faces, and I’m proud that together we have changed the way City Hall works with communities across our capital.”
Weekes-Bernard’s appointment will bring the total number of women working as deputy mayors under Khan to seven, compared to three men.

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