Students tell Croydon retailers to ‘Stop Scrooging’ and pay the Living Wage

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‘Stop Scrooging’ Living Label at Sports Direct

Croydon students told big retailers in Croydon this week to ‘Stop Scrooging’ and pay the Living Wage this Christmas.

The students, from Coulsdon College who are working with Croydon Citizens, a local alliance of schools, colleges, and faith and community groups, swapped pricing labels in four of the largest retailers on North End (Debenhams, M&S, Sports Direct and Primark) with labels calling on the stores to pay the Living Wage.

Karyn Storey, a student at Coulsdon College, said

“It’s simple: companies that can afford to pay the Living Wage should pay the Living Wage. We hope large retailers in Croydon give the gift of fair wages to their employees this Christmas so they can afford to enjoy the holidays.”

Photos of the replacement labels were tweeted with the hashtag #StopScrooging. The ‘Stop Scrooging’ campaign, led by national community organising charity Citizens UK and ShareAction, calls on Britain’s top 12 retailers to pay the Living Wage which is £9.15 per hour in London and £7.85 in the rest of the UK.

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Saima Samad, a student at Coulsdon College, said

“With Croydon set to become the retail capital of London, young people in the borough have a key interest in retail jobs paying decent wages. That’s why we’re so supportive of the #StopScrooging campaign to get big retailers such as Primark, Debenhams, M&S, and Sports Direct to pay the Living Wage – it would be absolutely unjust and a form of exploitation otherwise.”

Over the past three years, more than 1000 employers, including 19 of the FTSE 100 have committed to provide the Living Wage to all their staff, but retailers have lagged behind. Retail is responsible for 28% of the more than 5 million workers in the UK paid less than a Living Wage.

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Coulsdon College Living Wage team

Students at Coulsdon College regularly take action in and around their community through Croydon Citizens. Pius Ofori, of Coulsdon College said

 “We are constantly doing things like this. As the current Coulsdon College student union president, I believe that through action we are able to develop leaders and have an impact on our community”.

 

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Posted in Living Wage Campaign, South London, Uncategorized

Santa takes action against Speedy Cash

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‘Send some friends, earn cash rewards’ sign in the background as Santa delivers coal to Speedy Cash

Fifty community leaders from Lambeth Citizens took action against payday loan company Speedy Cash’s aggressive marketing policies. They joined Santa in delivering coal to Speedy Cash, who have been naughty this year, and giving presents to London Mutual Credit Union, who have been nice.

Lambeth Citizens are appalled by Speedy Cash’s marketing practices. As well as a sign saying ‘you are not aloan’” Speedy Cash offers £20 as a ‘reward’ for getting a friend to take out a payday loan.

Barbara Wilson, co-chair of Lambeth Citizens and a parishioner of Corpus Christi RC Church, Brixton, said:

“The community organising we do as part of Lambeth Citizens is about building relationships to empower the community. Speedy Cash’s policy is the opposite of that: it offers incentives for people to exploit their relationships and get their friends and family into debt this Christmas and we find that abhorrent.

It is Speedy Cash who are ‘alone’ and ‘a loan’.”

Lambeth Citizens gathered outside Speedy Cash with a banner saying ‘we are not alone’ and delivered coal to the payday lender along with a letter requesting a meeting with director Michael Charles to discuss their marketing practices.

Lambeth Citizens members also sang carols rewritten to be about Speedy Cash including:

Good tidings we bring,
To you and your kin,
We won’t get our friends into debt,
So keep your £20

 

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Speedy Cash’s aggressive marketing policies have a long history in Lambeth. As well as having cuddly kangaroos handing out balloons and sweets to kids outside Brixton tube station, last Christmas Speedy Cash in Brixton was censured by the advertising standards agency for an advert that targeted children, offering them free photos with Santa and a Christmas treat.

After leaving Speedy Cash, Lambeth Citizens went to Acre Lane to deliver presents to the London Mutual Credit Union branch. As well as offering affordable and ethical loans, the credit union has accredited as a living wage employer. Members of Lambeth Citizens also handed out leaflets advertising the credit union’s online payday loan function.

Rev Stephen Sichel, Vicar of St Matthew’s Church, Brixton and a leader in Lambeth Citizens said:

“We understand the pressures at this time of year and that people might need extra money before Christmas but we want to minimise the risk of people in our communities getting into cycles of debt. The credit union provides a way to get affordable, ethical loans that are an alternative to payday loan companies such as Speedy Cash.

In the lead up to the general election, Citizens UK is campaigning for fines on banks and payday lenders to be used to set up a community finance fund to support initiatives such as credit unions.

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Posted in South London, Uncategorized Tagged with:

Citizens Call on Councils to Resettle Refugees

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Refugee resettlement action team_1Over the past two weeks civil society institutions, who are members of national community organising charity, Citizens UK, have been taking action and asking their local councils to follow the example of Kevin Davis, Leader, Royal Borough of Kingston, who has pledged to resettle 50 refugees from countries such as Syria and Iraq, as part of Citizens UK’s call on Government to double the number of refugees that are offered sanctuary in the UK from 750 to 1,500.

Kevin Davis, Leader, Royal Borough of Kingston, said:

“Accepting a modest number of refugees into our Borough is not an easy task, but it is the right thing to do. Every council will have challenges such as housing, but by working together with civil society we will find a way to make this happen.

“The UK public and Government has donated huge amounts of aid, but sanctuary is also required for the neediest.”

The actions were timed around the UN High Commission Conference for Refugees in Geneva, on Tuesday 9th December.

Rabbi Danny Rich, chief executive Liberal Judaism, said:

“Every day we watch the crisis in Syria unfold. Three million refugees have fled Syria, and more than one million of them are now in Lebanon, a country the size of Wales, yet so far the UK has resettled just 100 refugees from the region.

“The UK has a long and proud tradition of offering sanctuary to the most needy. Many of my fellow Rabbis and I have grown up keenly aware that the history of our own families could have been very different had it not been for interventions such as the Kindertransport rescue mission.

“Communities across the country, united by Citizens UK, are this weekend, taking action and asking their local council leaders to offer sanctuary to modest numbers of refugees.”

Citizens UK’s 300 member institutions include churches, schools, synagogues, mosques and trades unions as well as a number of partner charities and groups. Together the members of these diverse organisations have developed a People’s Manifesto that includes a range of asks; such as doubling the number of refugees to 1,500; dignity for those receiving care, proper training and remuneration for care workers; establishment of a community finance fund paid for by fines levied on banks and high street lenders; and an end to indefinite detention for immigration purposes.

Citizens UK member, The Rt Reverend Jonathan Clark, Bishop of Croydon said:

“Over half of the three million refugees that have fled Syria already are under 18. This weekend is the Feast of Saint Nicholas and a festival for children in many countries. Saint Nicholas has a reputation as a bringer of gifts. What better gift could we offer to some of the world’s most vulnerable children and their immediate families than sanctuary?

“We want our local council leaders, MP’s, the Prime Minister and the delegation of officials attending the UN Refugee Conference in Geneva to know that we want them to increase the number of refugees offered sanctuary in the UK, increasing the number from 750 to 1,500.

“This isn’t about an open door immigration policy. It’s about helping some of the most vulnerable refugees and supporting them to safety.”

As part of the People’s Manifesto ask, Citizens UK members have pledged to support the well-being of refugees, welcoming them into local communities and encouraging them to integrate through participation in institutions.

Nora, a recently resettled Syrian mother, faced detention and torture before escaping to a UN Camp, she said:

“As a Syrian in the UK I am very grateful for the support we have received from the government, and from groups such as Citizens UK. The people I meet tell me they want to see more refugees, identified by the UN, to be brought to safety here. I think the UK has given safety to 90 people but the need is so much greater.”

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Posted in All, Citizens UK, Citizens UK Diaspora Caucus, Community Organising, Press Release