It was with great pride I heard of Melba Palhazy’s contribution as a torch bearer inEast London yesterday. Melba is one of our commissioners and I cannot think of a better choice. She works tirelessly and selflessly with unemployed and homeless young people in East London. This is a tough job by anybody’s standards, not one that us ordinary mortals would like to take on. Melba does her job with a passion and conviction that would frankly scare the pants off the average East Endhard nut. She brings this passion to the Commission too, along with real, first-hand knowledge of the people ofEast London. She knows what it is like to be poor, to be homeless, to be hungry or misunderstood.
When I established the Commission I wanted a really diverse range of people to help to shape our work and advise me and my team on the best way to discharge a role that was new and truly ground-breaking. We were pioneers from the start, there was no road map, so all views and contributions from the Commissioners were very welcome. I am delighted and proud of every one of our Commissioners – with one exception they have all stayed the course. There have been a few other resignations for positive reasons like conflict of interest or changes in personal circumstances. We have commissioners who have an academic or professional perspective – two academic doctors, one professor, a solicitor, a QC, and architect, the list goes on. We also have some people who come at the role from a more humanitarian angle; as well as Melba, we have the CEO of a community sports organisation in Leyton, a retired CEO of a social housing company, a retired physician. Our longest serving commissioner, Robin Stott, pre-dates me and was involved in the bid in 2003, some joined in 2007 and some in the second round of recruitment in 2009. They all give their time for free, with the exception of their travel expenses.
Their job is to advise and shape the work of the Commission using their individual expertise in specific subjects to support our assurance reviews and their collective wisdom in helping to decide the strategic direction of our work.
Working with such an eclectic bunch of people is both inspiring and challenging or frustrating…but mostly inspiring. Melba arrived on the scene in the second tranche of recruitment like a breath of fresh air (or possibly a hurricane). Her obvious passion and commitment was infectious, my biggest challenge is trying to find an opportunity for the other commissioners to get a word in edgeways.
Well done Melba, we are all very proud of you!