Reading’s first Black female councillor is an ‘inspiration to so many’

Sophia James has been nominated for a Pride of Reading Award for empowering Women of Colour, as well as standing up for the rights of LGBT+ people in the town

A Reading councillor has been put forward for a Pride of Reading Award for her commitment to celebrating and promoting diversity in Reading.

Labour’s Sophia James has been put forward for the Inspiration Award by Mark Lawrence, who said that the 31-year-old Katesgrove councillor is a ‘true asset to Reading ‘.

He wrote: “Over the years I’ve come to know Councillor Sophia James, I’ve witnessed her dedication to the community as a whole and her commitment to celebrating and promoting diversity.

“As a young bisexual Woman of Colour, I believe she is an inspiration to so many people.

“The first black female councillor elected to office, she has used her position to truly empower local Women of Colour, standing up for the rights of LGBT+ people and challenging hateful visitors to our town. Sophia is also part of the team at the relaunched Reading Carnival.

A nominator said that Councillor Sophia James was an inspiration (Image: Councillor Sophia James)

“I’ve had the honour to work with her many times with my organisation, History Portal.

“She worked tirelessly with me to set up Reading’s first celebration of LGBT+ History Month in the town and an outstanding exhibition for Black History Month in 2018.

“Sophia’s work goes far beyond that of a councillor and I’m proud to know her as a person and a friend.

“She is a true asset to Reading and a beacon of what someone from various minority groups can achieve.”

Sophia said that she was ‘extremely humbled’ to be nominated for the award.

She said: “I’ve had the privilege to be involved in some wonderful projects and activities and I have done my best to ensure that Reading is vibrant and welcoming.

Councillor Sophia James has been nominated in the Inspiration Award category (Image: Councillor Sophia James)

“Our town is full of incredible people and I’m very honoured to be considered alongside them. I will keep working hard for my local community.”

When asked how she feels about her role at the council, and what she has been able to achieve so far, Sophia said: “Austerity has been difficult across the board, but we have a lot of deprivation in Reading and people who need our support.

“Unfortunately government priorities have left us with less money than we need to serve them. In light of this, I’m really proud of the things we have been able to do.

“Saving the Central Club mural , introducing food waste , supporting residents against anti-social encampments and improving recycling, for example.

“As well as supporting local groups and organisations such as Reading Carnival and Pride which make this town vibrant and celebrate our diversity.”

Sophia has a simple piece of advice for those who want to inspire positive change in Reading. She said: “You can always make a difference, so just keep pushing.”

The Inspiration Award is sponsored by McDonalds and was open to all inspirational people in Reading, Berkshire.

Nominations have now closed.