CAMPAIGNER: Baroness Lola Young of Hornsey
ONE OF the House of Lords’ most vocal campaigners for social justice and equality was on July 17 has been awarded an honorary degree.
Baroness Lola Young of Hornsey, who previously graduated from Middlesex University with a BA in Contemporary Cultural Studies and later a PhD on British film, was overjoyed by the accolade.
She said: “This is a huge honour for me. I have fond memories of my time at Middlesex as a student and a member of staff. I know that many former students have a high regard for the way in which the institution embraced widening access and inclusivity and I'm pleased to have been a part of that.”
Vice-Chancellor Professor Tim Blackman added: “It is a thrill to see a former graduate and member of our staff become so well respected and make such a difference to the world.
“Baroness Young’s campaigning and passion across a wide range of issues, from sexual violence in conflict zones to criminalising contemporary forms of enslavement, has seen policy changes implemented for the better.”
A former head of culture at the Greater London Authority (GLA), Baroness Young was made an independent life peer in 2004 and is currently on the Board of Somerset House and a commissioner at Historic England.
An avid campaigner, she chaired the task group that produced the well-received Young Review, published in December 2014.
The report explored how to improve outcomes for young black and Muslim men in the criminal justice system in England and Wales and presented some recommendations.
Speaking to The Voice about the second phase, which is concerned with measuring change, the baroness said: “It’s still early days and what has happened is that we’re now on the second phase of the project which has been funded by a number of charitable trusts,” she explained.
“What we’re doing is monitoring the ways in which the recommendations are being implemented as well as working with key agencies in the sector to ensure that this issue doesn’t slip off the agenda again.”
The startling overrepresentation of ethnic minority communities in the criminal justice system should be an area of concern for all, said Young.
The former Middlesex University lecturer in cultural studies also recommended that it was time to stop homogenising the black community.
“In terms of young people, particularly young men getting in to the criminal justice system, whilst we recognise absolutely the impact of racism and discrimination we all have to think about the different communities and attitudes particularly to those young men when they come out of prison, how those attitudes and the practical help that they can give those young men is so important to trying to ensure that they don’t go back into the system.”
Looking ahead, the campaign to rectify the criminal justice system was a task for all, said Young, who proposed the need for “radical” change as she continues to work with organisations committed to see structural improvements.
“We can’t continue doing the same sort of thing and seeing it fail and letting that go, we need to take on some radical steps to make fundamental changes and that’s the big challenge and everybody ought to be engaged in that. We can’t leave it to one agency – it’s down to everybody to play a part in that.”
UNEXPECTED: Joan Myers
Joan Myers OBE, a leading children’s nursing expert, was also presented with an honorary degree. She added: “It came as a real surprise, totally unexpected.”
Myers is a nurse consultant for Children and Young People at North East London Foundation Trust and a part-time senior lecturer for community children’s nursing at London South Bank University.
She also chairs the Chief Nursing Officer’s Black & Minority Ethnic (BME) Advisory Group, advising NHS England on nursing and midwifery issues and raising awareness of health inequalities in BME communities.