Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government
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Communities minister celebrates ethnic minority achievement

Communities Minister Andrew Stunell yesterday celebrated the success of graduates in a pioneering scheme that helps people of all ethnic backgrounds achieve their potential.

He spoke at the graduation ceremony for participants in the First Steps and Black on Board programmes, both supported by Communities and Local Government, which offer training and support for people starting up social enterprises or looking to increase their influence in the local community.

Mr Stunell praised the scheme and outlined the Government's commitment to equalities and to building an 'opportunity society', in which barriers to social mobility are pulled down. The coalition agreement sets out a commitment to improve levels of enterprise in ethnic minority communities and offer internships to under­represented minorities in every Whitehall department.

Andrew Stunell said:

"Everyone, no matter what their background, should have the opportunity to rise as far as their talents will take them. This government wants to unlock the potential that's out there and enable people to succeed and to make a difference in their neighbourhoods.

"All today's graduates are in their own way role models and will be powerful examples for young people from all ethnic communities and circumstances, as they encourage the next generation to aim high and demonstrate what can be achieved through talent, determination and commitment.

"I congratulate all today's graduates and wish them every continued success."

Black on Board provides training and mentoring for people from minority ethnic communities to help them achieve places on management boards in the housing, education and health sectors. The knowledge and skills that participants acquire enable them to get involved in improving their local area and play a more active part in the Big Society. Also run by Olmec, the First Steps scheme aims to boost ethnic minority involvement in starting up social enterprises - something the Government is keen to encourage as social enterprises and mutuals play an increasingly important role in service delivery in the coming years.

Today's event recognised the achievements of the 40 individuals, predominantly from minority ethnic backgrounds, who have completed these training programmes.