Our Faith in Public Life officer, David Barclay, blogs about the second year of our pioneering leadership programme for young Christians…
The Buxton Leadership Programme is ready for its second year! The programme gives talented young Christian leaders a unique combination of experience in Parliament alongside a chance to practice church-based community organising. The aim is to help develop a new generation of Christian leaders in public life who can bring the experiences of inner-city communities into dialogue with Westminster. Alongside the practical placements the programme provides opportunities for reflection and personal development, including input from some of the leading Christians in public life in the UK. The Programme is named after Thomas Fowell Buxton, the heroic abolitionist who was an MP in the East End.
After a successful pilot year, the programme is delighted to welcome two exceptional new interns for 2014/15, Rosina St James and Isaac Stanley. Rosina grew up in Croydon where her parents are pastors in Pentecostal churches. She studied Social Policy with Government at LSE, and while there became the Chair of the British Youth Council, for which she has been awarded a British Empire Medal. In 2012 she won the Rare Rising Star Award as one of the top 10 most outstanding black students in Britain. Since graduating she has set up a number of social enterprises, including one working to boost young women’s self-esteem and confidence through creative arts. In her Westminster placement she will be working with the Conservative Christian Fellowship, whilst also being based at St Matthew’s Church in Brixton and leading the Just Money campaign in Lambeth on issues of money and debt.
On beginning her placements she said “I am extremely honoured to be on the Buxton Leadership programme. It’s a unique opportunity to get an insight into both local and high-level politics. It will also great to see how faith can play a vital part in modern day politics. This year is such an exciting year to be doing community organising and to work in Parliament in particular, as we move towards the general election on 7 May 2015.”
Isaac comes from Manor Park in east London where he was an active member of his local Catholic church, St Stephen’s. Having graduated with a first class degree from Cambridge, he has recently been studying for a Master’s Degree in Social Anthropology in Paris, with a particular interest in the experiences of migrant communities. After teaching himself Lingala (the main language in the Democratic Republic of Congo) he has previously worked with Citizens UK on their New Citizens Organising Team. In Parliament Isaac will be working for Frank Field MP, and his community organising placement he will be working on the Just Money campaign at St John at Hackney.
Upon starting the programme, Isaac said, “I am very excited to be at the beginning of my journey on the Buxton Leadership Programme. This is going to be a fascinating opportunity to experience two very different kinds of political action. This is a time when a lot of people and especially young people are generally cynical about the capacity of politics to change anything for the better. But as Gramsci’s famous maxim goes: pessimism of the intellect, optimism of the will! I am full of hope that the chance to be involved in the grassroots efforts of civil society to tackle the negative impact of exploitative payday lending in our vulnerable communities will provide me with inspiration for my work in Westminster and vice versa!”
The Buxton Leadership Programme relies on the generous support of individuals and charitable trusts in order to be able to offer this unique and life-changing experience for exceptional young leaders. If you or someone you know would be interested in supporting the Programme please contact the Buxton Co-ordinator David Barclay on firstname.lastname@example.org.