Page 3 Profile: Floella Benjamin, baroness


She looks familiar…

She should. To children’s-television fans of the late 1970s and early 1980s she’s the Play School presenter whom everybody loved.

Which window can she be seen through?

She’s much more likely to be hanging around with Vince Cable and Nick Clegg now. After closing the square, round and arched windows for the last time on Play School, Baroness Benjamin tried her hand at acting before eventually becoming a Liberal Democrat peer.

That seems like a big leap.

The 63-year-old may not be on kids’-television screens any more but she has been hard at work campaigning for children’s rights. Working alongside charities the NSPCC and Barnardo’s, Lady Benjamin is “totally committed to the well-being of young people”.

And if there’s ever a quiet moment in the Lords, she can liven up proceedings by singing. “When I sing I am in my element,” she said. “I started singing with my dad when I was a teenager. He had a jazz band and he got me to sing with his band.”

So what’s she been up to?

Well, the Government is looking into changing the laws around adoption, removing the provision that says a child’s racial background should be taken into account when finding them a new home.

And the Baroness is kicking off?

Not at all. Lady Benjamin, originally from Trinidad, thinks it’d be “dangerous territory” to remove the considerations about ethnicity from legislation. During the second reading of the Bill in the House of Lords she said ethnic backgrounds were a “significant factor” in adoption, helping parents “to be able to understand the identity of the child they are adopting”.

What’s her solution?

She said more needed to be done to encourage people from culturally diverse backgrounds to adopt.