Claire Wright discusses the empowering impact of Citizens UK, an interfaith alliance of civil society organizations addressing collective issues through community organising.
Invitation — Misa Campesina Nicaragüense
You are the God of the poor,
the human and simple God,
the God that sweats in the street,
the God with the weathered face.
That is why I speak to you
like my people speak to you,
because you are the labourer God,
the worker Christ.
This is the chorus to the Misa Campesina Nicaraguense that I came across recently at an Amos Trust reflection. It was a reminder that whilst I live a comfortable life and go to a beautiful church, life for a lot of people is neither comfortable nor beautiful, but whether or not they realise it, God is very much there for them and their dreams of a better life.
When we ask what we can do to make a difference to their lives, we can feel powerless or that our individual actions may not go far enough. Citizens UK brings people together, empowering local leaders and creating collective power to address issues that matter to us all. It is interfaith, for people of all ages, and is an alliance of civil society organisations, such as schools and colleges, faith groups, charities and community groups. Together our voice is louder and has more impact.
Which brings me my confession. In October I went along to the Citizens UK London manifesto meeting along with Beatrice and Tchansia from the SJP congregation. At the end of the session each organisation was asked to put down how many people they were going to bring along to the big London Mayoral Assembly on April 25th. In a moment that I like to think of as inspired hope, I wrote down 20 for SJP. Big citizens meetings are typically high energy, and the enthusiasm is infectious, but I’m normally very good at managing expectations. This time was different, I think for a number of reasons:
Citizens UK is not aligned to a political party, but uses proven community organising techniques that have their roots in the civil rights movement in the USA. The community organising process involves identifying what people care strongly about in a community through 1-2-1 conversations, building relationships and networks strong enough to support the struggle for change, developing community leaders and mobilising people to take collective action and make a difference. St James’s is a founding member of Westminster Citizens.
I know how busy people at SJP are and I will admit that after the meeting was over I had second and third thoughts about having said we would bring 20 people along to the Mayoral Assembly on 25 April 2024. However ‘speak our together’ is one of the aims of our three year strategy, and speaking out in numbers has an impact especially when it comes to the Assembly, so we would love to see you there!
If you would like more information and/or to be included in regular emails about forthcoming Citizens UK activities, please talk to Beatrice, Tchansia or me, or contact Tchansia at email@example.com
Key dates coming up 2023
December 11th – 10.30 to 11.30 at City Hall
Launch of Citizens Housing/Climate Change asks for mayoral election, including action on rogue landlords and renewed commitments to repair and retrofit fuel poor homes.
Key dates coming up 2024
25th April 4pm to 5pm – ‘Unapologetically faithful in the public space’ – Bloomsbury Central Baptist church
Interfaith event followed by a walk to Central Methodist Hall
25th April 6pm to 8pm London Mayoral Accountability Assembly (Central Methodist Hall)
3000 Citizens leaders from across London will be holding an assembly to challenge Sadiq Kahn and Susan Hall on Housing, Migration justice, Living Wage and Climate justice.
Citizens UK are also looking for people interested in helping build the campaign for free bus travel for asylum seekers, and would value a representative from SJP.