Sherelle Cadogan - Key Worker

15 March 2019

'Diversity is being invited to the party – inclusion is being asked to dance,' says Sherelle Cadogan, 42, an instructor operator on London Underground – she joined the railway in 2002 – single mother of two, livewire union activist, and the guiding force behind TFfLA, which runs socials, raises money for charity, and aims to change the image of TfL staff.

 

'It starts from the ground up, it can't be top down. And to have a more diverse workforce you need to have more diverse panels.' She pauses. 'I'm quite a little stirrer. And I'd love to leave a legacy of more diversity in transport.'

Sherelle Cadogan in the cab of a london underground train

Sherelle was born in Westminster in 1976 and brought up in West Norwood. Her mum Von was an HR manager for BT, her dad, Ulric, an engineer on London Buses who was also a union rep, magistrate, and member of the Labour Party, who stood for the council and campaigned for progressive causes, including campaigning with Ken Livingstone to reduce the 23-hour lock-up at Brixton prison.

 

'I grew up with two brothers and two sisters, in a close-knit family, with a strong sense of social responsibility, an understanding of the value of the labour movement, and a belief in the Labour Party. I went out with dad as he delivered flyers door to door...'

 

At 16 Sherelle left school – an all-girls' school, the Virgo Fidelis Convent School, where female science teachers encouraged the notion that girls, as well as boys, could do everything – to go to South Thames College, but her studies were interrupted when, at 18, she had a son. 'My mum and dad were really supportive but it wasn’t easy to study and look after a baby.'

 

Kadell Daniel, now 24, is a semi-pro footballer, a left-winger with Dover Athletic in the Vanarama National League, the fifth tier of English football, who has won four international caps for Guyana, the Golden Jaguars, for whom he qualifies through his maternal grandparents. As a youngster, he was on the books of Crystal Palace and Charlton; went on loan to Hayes & Yeading, and Torquay United, and had spells at Woking, Welling and Dulwich Hamlet, before joining Dover.

 

Sherelle did a two year part-time HND in electrical and electronic engineering at Lambeth College and then a three year engineering degree at South Bank University, funding herself with a string of part-time jobs at WH Smith, Thomas Cook, and a bowling alley, before getting a job as a customer services assistant with United Airlines at Heathrow.

 

When airlines contracted after 9/11 in 2001, Sherelle, who had a brother on London Underground, seized the chance to become a CSA on the Northern line. After working in the ticket office she applied to become a driver – 'as a single mum, renting, in Brixton, it was the only way I could see myself getting on' – and six months later got her key.

 

Read the full piece in April's edition of the ASLEF Journal, coming soon.

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