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Welcome Doreen Lawrence

August 2, 2012

I’m incredibly proud to welcome Doreen Lawrence to the Civic Centre today (Thursday).

Doreen Lawrence’s son Stephen was murdered in a racially aggravated attack in South East London in 1993. It was a crime that shocked our nation and later revealed the racist attitudes that lay at the heart of the Metropolitan Police force.

Today we honour her achievements in the field of race equality and her work in founding and running the Stephen Lawrence Charitable Trust that has done so much great work around the country.

The trust is a national education charity committed to providing opportunity and access to disadvantaged young people, fostering community relations and enabling young people to realise their potential.

It’s testament to the fact that real good can come from the most evil of acts and individuals like Doreen with a cause can make a difference to hundreds of young lives.

Newcastle has a reputation as a welcoming and friendly place, this week our Olympic ambassadors have welcomed football fans from far-flung places including Honduras, Spain, Brazil and South Korea.

It was wholly appropriate that our guest today took part in the opening ceremony of the London 2012 games last week carrying the Olympic flag that symbolises the world coming together to celebrate sporting endeavor.

In Newcastle our communities are, on the whole, strong and cohesive, but that isn’t just an accident. Every day the council and its partners play a vital role in making sure everyone feels safe and included. As a city we know that we are stronger together.

As a council we take a lead on this, it’s part to set an example by making sure the services we offer can be enjoyed by everyone and by ensuring our workforce is as diverse as possible.

It’s tempting to see this as an issue of skin colour, but it goes deeper than that. My administration is committed to making Newcastle a fairer place and key to that is making sure no-one is denied access to any opportunity because of where they are from or which language they speak. In the words of our Fairness Commission we want to make sure everyone has a ‘fair go’.

I’d like to thank our Lord Mayor and our local anti-racism charity Show Racism the Red Card for making this event happen and giving us the opportunity to honour a woman who is an inspiration to anyone who believes in social justice and the power of community.

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