092_Global12_CWN_V4

Global issue 12

commonwealth network Postscript Questions & Answers INTERVIEW Floella Benjamin has had an acting career in theatre, TV and film but it was as a children’s TV presenter that she became a household name. Today, she is an Officer of the Order of the British Empire, a Deputy Lieutenant of London and, since 2010, a member of the House of Lords. She talks toGlobal about the need to speak out on issues that affect children, her passion for education, her love of family and the excitement of marathon running Global: You were born in Trinidad and first need to express what I feel, especially on Farah and Jessica Ennis. That great feeling arrived in the UK as a young girl in 1960. issues of children’s equality and diversity. of inclusion was what I had worked for. It Looking back, how do you feel Britain has I campaigned for a Minister for Children showed Britain has changed for the better. changed? for 20 years and fought for diversity in We now need to sustain that sense of pride Floella Benjamin: It has become a lot children’s picture books. I have never been and ambition. more culturally diverse and tolerant com- frightened to speak out. pared with when I arrived. There is still You are probably best known for your racism but it is more fragmented. Colour work with young children but you are continues to stand in the way and I believe also involved in tertiary education, as it will take another two generations before Chancellor of Exeter University. Is the well- the colour of your skin doesn’t matter. being and development of children and young people a passion? You are now a very well-known and Yes, because childhood lasts a lifetime. It respected UK figure, and a baroness to is so important to have the right foundation boot. How would you describe yourself, in from birth. In those early years when brain terms of nationality and identity? cells are connecting, attachments and love I’ve always felt British because children are essential. As it has now been scientifi- in Trinidad were brought up to think of cally proven, so much is shaped by the age themselves as British. At school we sang of seven. So we need the best early educa- the national anthem every day, learnt about tion, particularly for the disadvantaged to British history, so when I came here, I felt take them through to university. It’s how we I was coming to the Motherland. It didn’t use the gift of education to contribute to the quite turn out that way as I was rejected and world and make it a better place. made to feel unworthy in a hostile environ- ment. That’s why I am pleased to have been Your mother died a few years ago. How born in Trinidad because I began life identi- important is family to you? fied not by my colour but as a person. I still miss her terribly. She was my eve- rything – a real earth mother who inspired How have your experiences shaped your You are a marathon runner: how did you and always had a solution to any problem. view of the Commonwealth? get into that? And how important is it to She gave people a sense of worth and con- I’ve always been a strong believer in the keep body, mind and soul in harmony? fidence and never took “no” for an answer. Commonwealth and feel it’s not appreci- I gave a pledge to Barnardo’s that I would Her love was poured into me every day. I ated enough in Britain. It represents the run ten consecutive London marathons try and pass on her legacy to my children idea of family – nations connected by a and I have completed that task. It was all and everyone I meet. common bond, despite different cultures. about mind over matter, and proves any- The Queen, of course, has done so much in thing is possible. It was very empowering. If you could change anything in the world, drawing us together. It should be celebrated I run on a regular basis but also walk a lot. what would it be? and treasured. A good low-carb diet and exercise are also Getting everyone to put children’s well-be- important. ing first, because everything we do affects You seem, above all, to be a communicator children. I have campaigned tirelessly on – as an actor, broadcaster, author, You were on LOCOG’s Diversity and their behalf. My latest issue in the House of campaigner, singer and now legislator. Inclusion Board for the 2012 Olympic and Lords is women in prison with babies and Have you always had something you Paralympic Games – were the games just have had a promise from the government needed to express, a story to tell, a a wonderful moment or do you see lasting that they will review current practice. Eve- message to convey? benefits? rybody deserves a happy and stable child- I have always been passionate about my I loved Danny Boyle’s Opening Ceremony hood in order to develop into decent mem- beliefs – morality, integrity, trust – and the and the achievements of athletes like Mo bers of society. It’s our duty to provide this. 92 lwww.global-briefing.org fourth quarter 2012global


Global issue 12
To see the actual publication please follow the link above