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It's a voting marathon not a sprint in Birmingham

LEADING THE WAY: Desmond Jaddoo (from left) with Pastor Bryan Scott, Councillor Sybil Spence, Dave Prince, of Newstyle Radio and PC Michelle Ugwueze

BY THE time the next General Election arrives in two years time Birmingham looks
set to be the most voter-ready city in the UK – thanks to Desmond Jaddoo, the man
behind his home city’s voter registration crusade.

Clearly Jaddoo sees this exercise as a marathon not a sprint and is steadily holding
regular clinics to encourage the African and Caribbean community to realise the
importance of engaging in the political process.

For the second time this year Handsworth’s Cannon Street Memorial Baptist Church
in Soho Road hosted a three-hour registration and political engagement clinic on
Saturday (March 2) which was extremely well attended.

Jaddoo, the founder of Birmingham Empowerment Forum (BEF) who helped to
launch the national campaign last October with Simon Woolley, of Operation Black
Vote, said: “Apart from registering to vote, people attended to discuss the importance
of encouraging their friends, neighbours and families to talk about politics in order to
create greater understanding of the need to hold local authorities to account – at both
local and national level.

“This type of engagement is having a positive impact and it’s important that we
don’t lose focus of the importance of the political and civic engagement of the Black
community in order for our voices to be heard in an effective manner.”

Soho ward Labour councillor Sybil Spence, Birmingham’s first black Lord Mayor,
who was at the event, said: “It’s so important that people register to vote because it’s
their vote and their right.”

While Handsworth Wood Labour Councillor Paulette Hamilton, who later tweeted
that the event was very well organised, added: “Voter registration is key to engaging
local residents in the political process.”

Lozells and East Handsworth Labour Councillor Hendrina Quinnen, said: “This is
important work – people need to get involved.”

While Labour Councillor Mahmood Hussain, who chairs the Perry Barr Constituency,
said: “This work is badly needed as everyone needs to be registered to vote in order to
use it.”

Pastor Bryan Scott, whose church hosted the clinic, said: “We must encourage
our communities to get involved in the running of their city and the Church has a
responsibility in assisting with this.”

Sgt Paul Street and the team from Birmingham Community Safety Partnership
also joined the event to talk about safety issues in and out of the home, including a
discussion on gangs and anti-social behaviour initiatives.

Jaddoo added: “The way forward is to keep up the pace with further clinics, which
will also feature in free ‘Bring on the Vote’ family concerts to be held at various
churches throughout Birmingham.”

The first concert will be held on Saturday 6th April at 6pm at Cannon Street Memorial
Baptist Church, 330 Soho Road. The line-up is yet to be confirmed.

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