Powered by PrivacyPolicies.com


International community change-maker to lecture in Birmingham



Internationally renowned speaker, community change maker and Co-Director of the Industrial Areas Foundation, Ernesto Cortes Jnr. will be delivering a lecture, Democracy and Inequality: Why a Strong Civil Society is Needed for a Strong Democracy, at the University of Birmingham Business School on Friday 26 May 2017.

Pro-Vice-Chancellor and Head of the College of Social Sciences, University of Birmingham, Professor Saul Becker and national community organising charity, Citizens UK, are welcoming Mr Cortes to the UK and Birmingham to learn from his more than 50 years’ experience of building civic power across the USA. The lecture is part of a series of events and partnerships that the University, championed by Professor Becker, is undertaking as part of its commitment to civic engagement.

During his presentation, Mr Cortes will argue why a strong and active civil society is so important to the way democracy is both learned and practiced. His experience has taught him how important it is for the key institutions of civil society like faith and education to challenge the growth in inequality for many reasons, but particularly for its corrosive effect on the human condition and the quality of family and community life. 

As the UK prepares for a General Election on June 8th, it is anticipated that Mr Cortes' words and experience will prove highly relevant at such an important time, and a reminder of the central role Civil Society must play in a healthy democracy - and not just at Election time.

Neil Jameson, Director, Citizens UK said: “Ernesto Cortes has been instrumental in building more than 30 broad-based organisations whose hallmark is the development and training of ordinary people to do extraordinary things. Over the years, these organisations have leveraged billions of dollars for poorer communities across the South West of America.

 “His work has brought together pastors, teachers, nurses, schools and families to build some of the best known and longest standing Community Organisations in America.  They have fought for and won billions of dollars of investment into their communities and trained thousands of community leaders to take power by using the tools of democracy and relationship building.

 “Citizens UK has a 30-year working relationship with the Industrial Areas Foundation, with Mr Cortes being instrumental in helping Citizens UK revive the tradition of community organising; he remains a great inspiration and teacher for a new generation.

 “I look forward to the learning opportunity his presentation offers, and the chance to debate and discuss his ideas and methods with community leaders, academics and representatives of the business community who we hope will join us.”

The event will bring together a diverse audience of key stakeholders from a variety of sectors across the city as well as leading Academics and a panel of thought leaders and experienced practitioners.


(Read more)
Add your reaction Share

Hundreds of unaccompanied refugee children could have been unlawfully denied family reunion

This week the Administrative Court will consider whether the government failed to take adequate steps to protect children’s rights prior to the demolition of the Calais camp in France, and its continuing failure to deliver and operate an effective system for the transfer of unaccompanied child refugees with family in the UK. Last week, in cases brought in the Upper Tribunal by lawyers working with Citizens UK’s Safe Passage project, it was determined that five children who were in the Calais camp were unlawfully denied their rights to reunite with their families in the UK.

Lawyers working with Safe Passage have said that this week’s Judicial Review could affect the cases of hundreds of unaccompanied children in France. Citizens UK is challenging the government’s failure to set up an operational Dublin III system for unaccompanied asylum-seeking children in France. This failure has meant that independent lawyers and charities such as Citizens UK’s Safe Passage programme have been forced to do the government’s job by carrying out the necessary legal and logistical work. “There is no functioning state system and what system there is, is currently almost entirely dependent on private actors,” the claim states.

(Read more)
1 reaction Share

Greater Manchester Citizens Statement

Citizens UK and Greater Manchester Citizens offer our thoughts and prayers to the victims, families and friends of the terrible attack last night. We will not let hatred divide us; we will stand together regardless of our faith or political allegiance and work for the common good. 

2 reactions Share

Harrow Citizens sign up at pre-founding partners' assembly

Young Irish Dancers entertained at the launch of Harrow Citizens.


The foundations of a broad community-based movement dedicated to improving the lives of people in Harrow through local campaigns and targeted action will be laid today at an inaugural meeting at St Jerome’s Church of England Bilingual Primary School.

Leaders from faith groups, and schools, will combine to form a new alliance under the banner, Harrow Citizens, part of national community organising charity, Citizens UK. The aim is to stimulate a grassroots movement in Harrow that will become powerful enough to represent the interests of ordinary people.

 Scores of supporters have signed up to a pre - founding partners’ assembly, laying aside their differences in the interests of the common good.

The emerging organisation will become an affiliate of Citizens UK, a powerful and growing network of over 350 faith groups, schools and colleges.  It is committed to developing the skills of communities so people are better able to identify their own needs, improve their neighbourhoods and participate more fully in society. It already has the ear of leading politicians.


(Read more)
Add your reaction Share

Training in community organising in South Africa: a first for Citizens UK


CUK and TELCO lead organiser, Emmanuel Gotora, tells us about Citizens first training trip to South Africa. 

In March 2017, I was privileged to lead Citizens UK's first community organising training in Africa. Together with our Tower Hamlets Organiser, Yasmin Aktar, I joined the team from the Commonwealth Foundation, who funded the training, at the O.R. Thambo Conference Centre in Boksburg, Johannesburg. We were here for a 4-day training and learning exchange with 30 representatives from eight out of the nine countries under the banner of the Southern African Alliance for Youth Employment (SAAYE).

Funded by the Commonwealth Foundation and hosted by the Economic Justice Network in South Africa, the training explored community organising as a vehicle for constructive engagement with national governments, with a view to taking action on the issue of youth employment in nine countries across the SADC region - Botswana; Lesotho; Malawi; Mozambique; Namibia; South Africa; Swaziland; Zambia; and Zimbabwe.

Over four jam-packed days, 31 participants from national church councils, youth organisations, and trade and student unions, engaged with the training curriculum. They interrogated the universals of broad-based community organising such as relational power, leadership, negotiation and self-interest. These are usually taught over six days, but the participants' understanding of the material was both insightful and instinctive.

I am encouraged that there is a group of talented people hungry for change, and willing to explore broad-based organising as the vehicle.

SAAYE! Salute! 

1 reaction Share

Interview with Liam Harrison - Market Director, Atkins


Liam Harrison is a Market Director for Atkins' Infrastructure division and is responsible for developing business around the UK’s biggest schemes such as the Northern Powerhouse, Crossrail 2 and the regeneration of Old Oak Common.

In 2012 Liam was responsible for developing an Olympic skills legacy which led to a collaboration with Citizens UK in East London and the development of the Pathways to Engineering scheme.




(Read more)
Add your reaction Share

Pupils in mass action for Redways improvements

In April, 400 pupils from five MK schools walked from their schools to the city centre to ask the Leader of the Council for 50 Redways improvements in MK’s 50th birthday year.   This was the first major action of the Redways Relaunch campaign, which was filmed and broadcast on BBC TV Look East.

Two pupil leaders, from MK Academy and St. Paul’s Catholic School, knocked for Cllr Pete Marland at Civic Offices and asked him to accompany them across the road to City Square, outside Marks & Spencers, where all the other students and pupils were gathered.

(Read more)
Add your reaction Share

Greater Manchester's leading Mayoral candidates pledge support for action on social care, low pay, hate crime and homelessness



Greater Manchester’s leading Mayoral candidates pledge support for action on low pay, social care, hate crime and homelessness.

 Greater Manchester’s leading Mayoral candidates supported Citizens UK’s pledges around issues of social care, housing and homelessness, low pay and hate crime, when they addressed the Greater Manchester Citizens (GMC) founding assembly on Monday May 1st.

Candidates, Sean Anstee (Conservative), Jane Brophy (Liberal Democrat) and Andy Burnham (Labour), and also agreed to meet with GM Citizens within 100 days of taking office, should they be elected, to discuss how to proceed with the pledges below:

  • Social Care - implementing and enforcing minimum standards as part of commissioning arrangements including an end to 15min visits, ending zero hours contracts.
  • Living Wage – to actively champion and promote the real living wage. Launching Living Wage Week in greater Manchester every year. Pushing for councils and key institutions to pay a real Living Wage and use their buying power to drive change across other sectors. To work with greater Manchester citizens to put pressure on Manchester United and Manchester City football clubs and push them to pay the real living wage by the start of the 2019/2020 season.
  • Housing/Homelessness - galvanise the regions housing providers (both in the private rented sector and housing association sectors) and decision makers to create a framework of Housing First options in order that long term appropriate housing is provided to those groups most at risk due to their circumstances and the impacts they face of welfare reform.
  • Hate Crime- Ensure all members of the police force are trained in recording hate crime, can differentiate between race and religious hate crime, and monitor and measure hate crime data to identify emerging trends and focus resources on the relevant areas. Provide a victim support service that is effective and inclusive.


(Read more)
Add your reaction Share

What is a Citizens UK Assembly?

Citizens Assemblies are a powerful tool community organising uses to publicly seek commitments from politicians which can then be used to hold them to account. Assemblies are primarily events for our member institutions to join together and collaboratively approach decision makers. A Citizens Assembly is not a hustings, an election debate or a partisan political rally. We don’t invite questions from the floor. Instead we hear powerful testimonies and stories from leaders of our member institutions. These stories are focused on priorities our member institutions have agreed to work on together and are often the result of a local listening campaign to determine these issues.

The political candidates we choose to invite to respond to these issues on stage with us are selected by considering what their likelihood of success is, judged on objective considerations, such as how parties in the area have performed in recent local and national elections, and even how bookmakers are reporting the candidate’s odds of winning.

Our schedule includes contributions from leaders, music and drama as well as hearing the responses from candidates. It’s a practical necessity to limit candidates joining us on stage.

A key message from the chair of every Assembly we run is to remind the audience that there are other candidates standing for election, and the event is not partisan. Importantly the final message of every Assembly is to remind audience members that their duty is to take part in the political process and to encourage others to join them in doing so, rather than proscribing who anyone should vote for.

We are always happy to explain this position to any candidate and are proud of the long history we have of delivering important Citizens Assemblies.

(Read more)
Add your reaction Share

Youth Music becomes first Living Wage Friendly Funder in the arts and culture sector

 Picture shows young people making music at a project run by Brighter Sound in Manchester, funded by Youth Music. Brighter Sound is a Living Wage Employer. 

National Charity Youth Music is leading the way by joining the Living Wage Foundation’s new scheme for charity funders –the first arts and cultural funder to do so. The scheme recognises funders that commit to supporting charities by funding posts at the Living Wage or above.

Youth Music invests in music-making projects for children and young people experiencing challenging circumstances. The charity supports around 350 projects across England, reaching more than 75,000 participants aged 0-25 each year. Projects funded by Youth Music work with young people in complicated situations, helping them to develop personally and socially as well as musically.

Youth Music is a designated distributor of public funding from the National Lottery via Arts Council England, and fundraises from a variety of other sources. As a Living Wage Friendly Funder, Youth Music will support successful applicants to pay the Living Wage to any grant-funded staff posts. Youth Music will also encourage grantholders to become accredited employers.


(Read more)
Add your reaction Share

Sign up

Get the latest campaign news, join our movement for change today!