Former student Tele so proud to be the youngest Havering Councillor
Former Havering Sixth Form College student Tele Lawal has proved that young people can make a difference and follow their dreams by becoming the youngest ever and the first black female Councillor for the London Borough of Havering.
Tele, now 23, was just 22 years old when she was elected as Labour Councillor for Heaton Ward in Harold Hill last year.
Since then she has been out and about in the area, campaigning for improvements in housing, community safety, and working with a local church to reduce anti-social behaviour.
The young British Nigerian wants to show other vibrant young women that they can be successful in politics too. She said: “The main comment I get from young people is, ‘You don't look like a politician!’ My response is always, ‘What should a politician look like?’ I make a point of going to Council meetings super glammed-up so it will be accepted and normalised.”
Tele says she feels honoured to be the youngest member of Havering Council – and one of the youngest councillors in the country.
She said: “The reason I ran for Council was to be that ‘someone’ who looks like me. Most of the other councillors are a lot older but at my first meeting they made me feel so comfortable. One of my closest friends now is my 74-year-old colleague. He saw my energy and has been so supportive.”
During her time at Havering Sixth Form from 2011 to 2013, Tele studied Performing Arts and Creative Media BTECs, achieving Distinction grades in both. After leaving College, Tele attended Nottingham Trent University, where she was awarded a degree in Broadcast Journalism. She now works as a Public Relations professional at Metro Bank.
She describes her time at College as “one of the best times of my life” and said: “I learned independence and determination. This particular mind-set was drummed into me by some wonderful tutors who taught me that I could be successful through hard work.”
She admits it hasn’t always been easy being in the public eye. “Women in politics do get trolled online, but I didn’t expect it face-to-face as well. I’ve been door-knocking and had people laugh at me. I felt like I had racism, classism and ageism all working against me. But I am proud to say I was elected and I grew tough skin in the process. I've been fighting the good fight and enjoying it!”
She added: “This was not my planned career path. One day I said to myself, ‘I want to help people,’ so I just went for it and it was not easy at all. I was knocked down several times, but I got back up stronger. Having the mental strength to pick yourself up is key, so even when you’re tired or it feels like you’re not getting anywhere, keep on. It will be worth it.”
Discover what some of our students go on to achieve once they leave us on our Where Are They Now? page