Citizens Call for World Cup Living Wage Commitment

CCW founding

CCW founding

Last night, Wednesday October 22nd, over 800 people, representing 100 local groups came together at Eglwys y Tabernacl on the Hayes, Cardiff, to attend the Cardiff Citizens and Vale of Glamorgan Citizens Founding Assembly and ratify a series of social justice campaigns they would work on together over the next five years, with the most immediate being a call to make the Rugby World Cup 2015 deliver a legacy of Living Wage jobs for Wales.

Cardiff Citizens and Vale of Glamorgan Citizens are the two newest community organising alliances in the growing Citizens UK network, responsible for campaign successes such as the Sanctuary Pledge campaign to end the detention of children for immigration purposes and the Living Wage campaign, accrediting over 900 employers and improving the wages of more than 30,000 workers.  Locally, leaders trained by Citizens have succeeded in persuading Nando’s to create the first chain restaurant where Muslims and non-Muslims can eat together in Cardiff, won more pupil-friendly services from Cardiff Bus, and campaigned for Cardiff University to pay the Living Wage.  More alliances are developing across South Wales under the banner of Citizens Cymru Wales.

Jim Barnaville , Co-chair of Cardiff Citizens, said :

“Cardiff Citizens and Vale of Glamorgan Citizens unite diverse communities to work on issues for the common good. Working together we are stronger.

“Before formally beginning our work as Citizens alliances, members of our congregations and groups have been trained to listen to their friends and neighbours and identify areas of worry and need. These conversations have formed the basis of our plan of action.”

Dr Eva Elliott, of the Cardiff School of Social Sciences and Canton Uniting Church, said:

“We have launched an ambitious social justice agenda for the next five years.  We agreed to initiate campaigns together to tackle poverty and inequality, ensure a fair day’s pay for a fair day’s work through quality Living Wage jobs, make businesses and services more responsive to people’s needs, keep a welcome in our communities by improving relationships with each other and those in need, and to overcome powerlessness by training citizen leaders with the skills they need to achieve change.”

Dave Horton, a leader with Cardiff Citizens and a member of Action Caerau & Ely, said:

“Over and over we heard concerns about the problems low-pay and lack of opportunity is having on our neighbourhoods, especially for young people. That’s why we’ve decided to campaign for the first ethical Rugby World Cup – that delivers a legacy of Living Wage jobs for local people. People from across the globe will be visiting our country to enjoy the sporting spectacle. This is our chance to showcase Wales doing the right thing by its workforce, respecting and recognising the effort everyone will put into making it a great event. We hope the example will persuade others that those who can should pay the Living Wage.”

The call for the World Cup in Wales to be a Living Wage event follows in the footsteps of a successful negotiation by London Citizens to ensure that the 2012 Olympics benefitted local people with job opportunities at Living Wage rate or above.

Further campaigns will focus on training young people to be more active in public life, improving access into skilled jobs, and supporting a call for vulnerable refugees from UN camps in warzones to be resettled In South Wales.

The campaigns have been selected following the largest face-to-face community listening campaign the capital and Vale have ever seen.  Over 5,000 local people were consulted by participating community leaders, and asked to share stories of what was putting pressure on them and their families, what they would like to change about their neighbourhood, and what they would do if they were Prime Minister.  In total 1,000 local people are expected to act as ‘Community Listeners’ listening to 10,000 stories in total this year.

For press enquiries please call Jonathan Cox, Lead Organiser, Citizens Cymru Wales & Citizens UK, m 07919 484066 or Gillian Owen, Head of Media, Citizens UK, 07876246150

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Rabbis, pastors and imams unite to call for Lambeth council to offer sanctuary to 50 UN refugees

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P1020930

Lambeth faith leaders, Rabbi Janet Darley, Pastor Suzette Ashley and Imam Abdulkadir Mohammed, with the support of their congregations and local communities, joined together at Windrush Square, on 9th October during the Jewish festival of Sukkot, to call upon Lambeth Council to offer resettlement to a small number of vulnerable refugees living in UN camps near war-zones such as Syria and Iraq.  

In marking Jewish festival of Sukkot, the faith leaders took part in the traditional practice of building a temporary shelter, remembering the refugee experience of their ancestors and inviting others to share in the sanctuary of the shelter. The shelter was built in Windrush Square, overlooking Lambeth Town Hall.

The local faith leaders are working with Lambeth Citizens, part of national community organising charity, Citizens UK, to encourage local authorities to help double the number of refugees that the UK currently admits.

“It’s fantastic to see Lambeth civil society and faith leaders speaking with one voice on such an important issue” said Nick Jones from South London Liberal Synagogue. “we can and should do more for refugees in camps across the world and that’s why we’re so keen to be part of this campaign” he added.

The campaign hopes to persuade 15 local authorities, including Lambeth Council, to offer sanctuary to 50 people annually, which would double the number of refugees resettled in the UK from just 750 to 1,500. Local authorities that agree will receive financial support from a UN refugee resettlement scheme funded by the UK government and the EU.

Rabbi Janet from South London Liberal Synagogue said:

“It was a pleasure to gather with our neighbours, and the wider Lambeth community and share with them the important traditions of Sukkot.

“United, we are offering our support to Lambeth Council as we ask them to do the right thing and help a small number of people who are in the most desperate of situations through no fault of their own. Together we promise to aid and welcome the refugees.

“The UK has a proud tradition of hospitality and sanctuary and we believe Lambeth can lead the way in reviving this tradition by being one of the first communities to offer refuge to the most needy.”

The call to help follows an urgent request by the UN for safe countries to resettle refugees and relieve the pressure on Syria and Iraq’s neighbouring countries that are supporting 2.3 million refugees. The UK is the sixth richest country in the world, yet has resettled fewer than 20 refugee families from Syria since the start of the crisis – not enough people to fill a single-decker bus. In contrast, Germany has committed to settle 10,000 Syrian refugees.

Pastor Suzette Ashley from Taste of Glory Apostolic Ministries church pointed out the significance of the action taking place in Windrush Square saying:

“this square was named after the boat that first brought the people over from the Caribbean in 1948. It’s important that we uphold Lambeth’s tradition of welcoming those in need and seeking a better life and show love and compassion to people in refugee camps.”

The action was also attended by Lambeth Council cabinet member for housing Cllr Matthew Bennett and Cllr Saleha Jaffer. Cllr Bennett said that

“it’s an absolute travesty that the UK hasn’t done more for Syrian Refugees” and agreed to arrange a meeting with Lambeth Citizens and leader of the council Cllr Lib Peck to discuss how Lambeth could contribute.

Lianna Etkind, local resident and Lambeth Citizens member said:

“like most British Jews i’m descended from immigrants, my grandfather arrived here fleeing Nazi Germany. Britain gave him sanctuary then; now we need to do the same for those fleeing Syria”

She added “Lambeth Citizens represents a variety of institutions from across the borough, including churches, schools, synagogues and mosques. Together we believe that we can make a difference. This isn’t about an open door immigration policy; it’s about helping some of the most vulnerable refugees and supporting them to safety here in Lambeth.

Sukkot marks the start of the Citizens UK ‘Season of Sanctuary’ and will be followed by more events around Islamic New Year (24th Oct), and the Feast of St Nicholas (6th Dec) to continue to raise awareness of the plight of refugees and the opportunity local communities have to help.

 

ENDS

For more information please contact James Asfa, Citizens UK community organiser at James.Asfa@londoncitizens.org.uk

 

Follow South London Citizens on Twitter @SLondonCitizens

 

Jewish festival of sukkot

Whilst many were turned away, 70,000 Jews found sanctuary in the UK during the 1930s.

During Sukkot Jewish communites are encouraged to remember when they were refugees during the Israelites’ 40 years wandering in the desert – vulnerable, subject to the elements and without permanent, safe homes. Whilst for most Jews the experience of being refugees is historical, on Sukkot Jewish communities are asked to remember the immense vulnerability that is still felt by so many in this world, and to do something about it. To this end, a tradition is to invite ushpizin, (Aramaic for guests) into our informal dwellings to eat together in community – to make room for the needy in our Sukkot ‘homes’.

 

Citizens UK works to develop the capacity and skills of socially and economically disadvantaged communities so that their members are better able to identify and help meet their own needs; improve their neighbourhood; and participate more fully in society.

In 2010 Citizens UK’s ‘Sanctuary Pledge’ ended child detention in the immigration system. The campaign was supported by the Church of England, the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales, the Methodist, Baptist and United Reformed Churches, The Muslim Council of Britain, the Jewish Council on Racial Equality, the Board of Deputies of British Jews and the Chief Rabbi.

The campaign culminated in an assembly of 2,500 people days before the 2010 General Election, where David Cameron, Nick Clegg and then Prime Minister Gordon Brown pledged to end child detention. Since then, 4000 children have escaped the trauma of being locked up for an immigration-related issue. In January 2014 the Government announced an amendment to the Immigration Bill to prohibit the detention of children. This enshrines in law the progress that the government has made since 2010 in ending the practice of locking up innocent children with their families in prison-like conditions.

 

More information at www.citizensuk.org

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Nottingham Citizens Launches A Citizens Commission: No Place for Hate

Nottingham Citizens Logo (1) (2)

Tonight NottinNottingham Citizens Logo (1) (2)gham Citizens will launch a new report A Citizens Commission: No Place for Hate. The ground-breaking report uncovers the extent and nature of incidents of prejudice and hatred, and provides a real opportunity for local partners – police, local authorities, health providers and voluntary organisations – to respond effectively, increase reporting rates and, most importantly, act to prevent future occurrences by building strong and cohesive communities that celebrate difference and practice tolerance rather than responding with hatred and violence.

Click hear to read the report!

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