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“Speak out and make a difference” Stuart Lawrence’s inspiring message to students

“Speak out and make a difference” Stuart Lawrence’

Educator and motivational speaker, Stuart Lawrence (@sal2nd), spoke to students and staff at London South East Colleges (@LSEColleges) yesterday – highlighting the importance of ‘speaking out’ and making a difference.

Stuart is the younger brother of Stephen Lawrence, who was tragically murdered in a racist attack in south London in 1993. He is dedicated to working with young people; encouraging them to reach their full potential and transform their life chances.

The virtual event, part of the College’s Landmark Lecture series, was hosted by Director of Diversity at the Association of Colleges and the ETF, Jeff Greenidge.

Stuart spoke to the audience about his background and life experiences, as well as sharing insight to his new book ‘Silence is not an Option: You Can Impact the World for Change’. He said: “We are all unique but each of us has the ability to use our brains to reflect on the things we’ve done in the past. We can judge for ourselves whether they are good things or bad things and we can all make changes – to ourselves and influence others to change too.

“And, we can listen. We can develop a greater sense of empathy – discover what it’s like to walk in someone else’s shoes and alter our own mindsets to become better people.

“Always question what you hear people say, particularly when you think they have said or done something wrong. Learn to challenge using the power of the ‘five whys’ – ask five questions why and each one will lead you to why someone believes and says the things they do. Eventually you get to the truth and maybe they do too. 

“Tomorrow is not promised to anybody – so what are you going to do today? Think of somebody you know; someone who means the world to you. Think of all the good things they do and why they make you so happy. Then imagine that they have gone – you can’t talk to them or see them ever again. That is how I feel every day since I lost my superhero brother Stephen all those years ago.

“I thank you all for hearing me talk to you today – but ask yourself this question, have you been listening?”

Host Jeff Greenidge led the Q&A session, which followed Stuart’s talk, and offered reflective closing remarks. He said: “Stuart’s words today, as always, were very powerful as well as truly inspirational. I know the students hearing them will have listened carefully and challenged themselves, thought deeper and looked beyond the blurred lines that can cloud our judgements. It was a fabulous presentation and I for one feel very privileged to have watched and listened too. Thank you very much Stuart.” 

Chair of London South East Colleges, Stephen Howlett CBE, DL welcomed the speakers and audience to the event. He said: “We are hugely grateful to Stuart and to Jeff for joining us today. This event is particularly timely in terms of the social and economic impact of Covid-19 and indeed our own educational group’s focus on equality, diversity and inclusion. 

“Stuart’s talk resonated strongly with all our students and staff and I am sure that his words will inspire many of us to consider what more we can do personally to help improve the world in which we live.”  

Following the Lecture, the audience was given the opportunity to ask Stuart questions. These included:  

What type of education would you wish for your own son? Stuart answered by saying he wanted his son to learn not just about King Henry VIII and his wives in history but about the contributions made to history by people of all colours and cultures throughout the world. 

How can we change our society to become fairer and more inclusive? Stuart answered by saying that making changes to our own attitudes towards others can slowly but surely influence others to do the same. Again, his main message here was to try and listen to others and develop empathy. 

Student, Fredrica said: “Wow! That was very powerful. Thank you Stuart!” 

Student, Edward said: “Very powerful words indeed – I’m in bits!” 

You can watch the full lecture here…

This was the latest in a series of landmark lectures given to London South East Colleges’ staff and students by some of the most senior figures from the public services, business and charity sectors. 

Previous speakers have included outgoing FE Commissioner Sir Richard Atkins, Matthew Trainer, Chief Executive of the Oxleas Trust, former CEO of Lloyds of London, Dame Inga Beale, former Fire Commissioner Dany Cotton, Police Commissioner Cressida Dick, Police Commander Dr David Musker, Ofsted Chair Professor Julius Weinberg, Business Entrepreneur David Gold and many more.

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