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Man on a mission to get everyone voting

VOTE: Nathan Duberry, Pannel Croft’s activities facilitator, (left) with Desmond Jaddoo, Earl and Bernice Barrow

COMMUNITY ACTIVIST Desmond Jaddoo is proving he is a man on a mission as he continues with his relentless task of making sure every member of Birmingham’s black community is registered to vote in time for the next General Election in 2015.

It’s a big ask, but Jaddoo is determined to keep up the momentum with regular voting registration clinics across the city where people can spend less than five minutes filling in the necessary form offered to them.

“It’s crucial to get the word out there about the importance of having a vote so people have a voice,” said Jaddoo, founder member of the Birmingham Empowerment Forum, who supported the national launch of Operation Black Vote’s registration campaign in Birmingham four months ago.

Now Jaddoo is keeping up the pace at city churches, and community centres armed with boxes of registration forms.

He was at the newly-opened Pannel Croft village in Newtown where more than 200 people over the age of 55 are living in a specially-built complex which includes a rooftop garden, a cinema room, a bowling green and a wide variety of activities classes.

More than 100 potential new voters came along to the clinic, organised by Jaddoo and supported by Aston Labour Councillor Ziaul Islam and Pannel Croft Village’s activities facilitator Nathan Duberry.

Resident Christopher Smith, aged 62, a retired chauffeur, who hails from Spanish Town in Jamaica, said: “I used to vote years ago but let it lapse. It wasn’t until the elections for the Police and Crime Commissioner came up last November that I decided to use my vote again.

“But when I went to vote I was told I wasn’t registered. They simply said ‘you are not on the list.’ I thought they were joking. It made me realise how important it was to have a voice in the voting process, so I’m delighted I can now register again. It’s one of the most important things any of us can do.”

While fellow residents Earl Barrow, aged 80, and his 74-year-old wife Bernice, added: “We’ve always voted but are re-registering now we have moved here. It’s vital that we all have a voice at the ballot box.”

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