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29 April 2022
Diversity, disparity and inclusion

Jacqui MacDonald-Davis, MA trustee and Chair of our Black, Asian and minority ethnic network, reports on marking Stephen Lawrence Day with the Home Office.

Taking place annually on 22 April, Stephen Lawrence Day celebrates the life and legacy of its namesake who was murdered in a racially-motivated attack in 1993. The commemorative day – which particularly targets children and young people – seeks to inspire us all to help build a fairer and more inclusive society in which everyone can live their best lives.

The Home Office kindly invited us to mark this day together. So, we – the MA’s Black, Asian and minority ethnic network – jumped at the opportunity to facilitate a 90-minute information session for Home Office staff on volunteering as a magistrate. Our aim was to raise awareness of how magistrates help create positive change in their communities and, in so doing, to encourage attendees to apply to join our ranks.

The session was very well attended, with more than 140 participants eager to learn about what it is really like to sit as a magistrate. As well as myself and Shereen Williams (deputy chair of our Black, Asian and minority ethnic network), several Home Office employees – Louise Selby, Billie Savage and Gwyn Phillips – also spoke about their experiences of volunteering for this 650-year-old institution.

We started off the session with a quiz to gauge attendees’ existing knowledge of the magistracy. This was followed by the speakers sharing their motivations for, and what they enjoy most about, being a magistrate. Billie then outlined the application process and explained how volunteering in this role is a great example of the Home Office’s ‘giving back’ policy in action. I closed the session with an impassioned speech on why I became a magistrate, the challenges of sitting as a magistrate, the principles of sentencing, and the importance of giving back.

All in all, I thoroughly enjoyed being able to mark such an important day by informing and (hopefully!)  inspiring a group of interested civil servants about a cause close to my heart. I signposted them to key government and MA webpages so they could learn more about the magistracy and our ongoing work to raise awareness of the diversity therein, and I reminded them that if they’re keen to challenge themselves, develop new skills and give back to their communities then they’re ideal candidates for joining the magistracy.

If you’d like to learn more about Stephen Lawrence Day, please visit the Foundation’s website, which speaks of the power of communities and why they matter now more than ever before.