This year we welcome four more wonderfully talented and highly committed Fellows: Dame Esther Rantzen, Francesca Martinez, Sir Kenneth Olisa OBE and the Rt Hon Damian Hinds MP.
2021 City Lit Fellows
Dame Esther Rantzen is a national hero. She has had a long career as a journalist, broadcaster and relentless campaigner. Dame Esther set-up Childline in the 1980s to provide counselling for children suffering abuse and then, following the death of her husband, she established Silver Line in 2012 to combat loneliness for older people. “I am a huge fan of City Lit I am so grateful for this great honour. I will do my best to live up to it.”
Francesca Martinez is a former student of City Lit and now best known as a comedian, writer and unflinching campaigner. She describes her cerebral palsy condition as being a ‘bit wobbly’ and has not allowed it to hold her back from being the first woman to win the coveted Open Mic Award or going head-to-head with seasoned politicians on subjects including inequality and free speech. As Francesca has eloquently written: “Encountering difference is an opportunity to learn, to grow, to reach out, to connect. A chance to expand as a human being and challenge afresh your ideas, beliefs, assumptions, insecurities and prejudices.”
Sir Kenneth Olisa OBE has had a hugely successful corporate career which he attributes to the kindness of his school headmaster “He was determined his pupils would never feel excluded”. In 2015, Her Majesty the Queen appointed Sir Ken as Her Majesty’s Lord-Lieutenant for Greater London and he was knighted in the 2018 New Year’s Honours List for services to business and philanthropy. Providing hope and encouraging talent have played a central role in Sir Kenneth’s life. He has held key roles at Thames Reach, Shaw Trust and the Aleto Foundation, tackling homelessness, unemployment and the personal development of young people in achieving their full potential. Sir Kenneth is Founder and Chairman of Restoration Partners. Sir Ken has visited the college on a number of occasions in recent years to support our work.
Rt. Hon Damians Hinds MP has previously been Minister for Employment and Secretary of State for Education. Damian became an MP in 2009 and has been instrumental in championing lifelong learning and advocating the many alternative routes to employment other than university. “City Lit has adapted and innovated to meet London’s changing needs and to make a difference to the lives of those who live there.” In his numerous roles that include serving on the Education Select Committee and chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Groups for Social Mobility and for Credit Unions, he has consistently promoted social mobility and access to high quality education that delivers real benefits for learners. As Secretary of State, Damian hosted the launch event of City Lit's Centenary celebrations in Parliament.
Read more about our Fellowship programme >