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1000 Greater Manchester Citizens to challenge Mayoral candidates at Assembly

The crisis in social care, housing and homelessness, low pay and hate crime, will top the agenda when Greater Manchester Mayoral candidates get a grilling from Greater Manchester Citizens (GMC) at their invite-only founding assembly tomorrow,  May 1st.

Citizens UK and GMC will host hundreds of guests at this unique event at the iconic Lowry Theatre in Salford Quays. This is the biggest event of the Mayoral campaign. The leading Mayoral candidates, Andy Burnham (Labour), Sean Anstee (Conservative) and Jane Brophy (Liberal Democrat) will be asked how they would tackle the above issues, identified as top priorities for the area by Citizens’ groups and their members.

Guests in the audience will share their personal testimonies on these subjects, presented along with drama and music, and will ask the candidates to make certain pledges should they gain office, including:

-          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. 

 -          Football- 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.



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London Council leads on Living Wage as new report gives thumbs up from consumers

London Council leads on Living Wage as consumers give thumbs up to Living Wage businesses.

 The Living Wage Foundation today announced Lambeth Council as a recognised Living Wage Friendly Funder, meaning that besides paying all direct staff the real Living Wage, the council will support their funded charities to pay the Living Wage to grant-funded staff posts.

 The announcement coincides with the publication of a report on the potential value to businesses paying the London Living Wage, and being accredited as doing so. The report - Living Wage South Bank – highlights that consumers are more likely to buy from companies whose wages are known to meet the cost of living in London.

The real Living Wage is an hourly pay rate, calculated annually based on a basket of goods method that reflects travel and rent costs and food, clothing and bills. It is currently set at £8.45/hr in the UK and £9.75/hr in London. The higher rate in London reflects the much higher living costs and escalating rents in the capital.


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Citizens' league table shows developers' failure to build affordable London housing


London Citizens’ Affordable Homes League Table for London: The eight biggest housing developers in London (by the amount of homes built) ranked by percentage of affordable housing in developments of over 50 residential units, completed between April 2011 and March 2016. 

  • London needs at least 90,000 affordable homes, London Citizens is echoing the call of London Mayor, Sadiq Khan, asking developers to build at least 35% affordable on all sites
  • Community leaders attend Taylor Wimpey AGM to demand 35% affordable homes be built in future developments

A group of campaigners from London Citizens, part of national community organising charity, Citizens UK, has today released an Affordable Homes League Table for London, detailing the percentages of affordable homes that developers have built in the capital over the past five year.


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Citizens UK secures study into safety of Tottenham road crossing


Picture shows: Anthony Davis, Rebecca Ellis, Yvonne Jhagroo, Matthew Creber

Transport for London (TfL) have agreed to undertake a new feasibility study to review the safety of pedestrians at the junction of Philip Lane and A10 High Road after meeting with members of Haringey Citizens last month.

Haringey Citizens have long argued that the road crossing is unsafe for pedestrians and have been campaigning for a change to the road crossing for the last two years.

 Yvonne Jhagroo, a parishioner from the near-by Holy Trinity Church, said:

 “We are encouraged to hear TfL are conducting a study into the safety of the crossing. For many local residents like myself, the crossing is a nightmare for pedestrians and has been for too long. It serves two primary schools, multiple churches, a housing development, a bus station, local shops and a near-by leisure centre and many risk their lives every day without a ‘green man’ light or puffin crossing”


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Citizens UK at Greenbelt Festival: Still building after all these years

Citizens UK: Still building after all these years

Citizens UK is delighted to be partnering with Greenbelt at this year’s festival. Not only will it help to bring key theological voices to the festival to explore the agenda and its overlaps with the Common Good (like Luke Bretherton and Anna Rowlands), CUK will also be hosting a day of community organising workshops, sharing our methodology so that all might return to our communities and be the change we want to see. 

Here is Citizens UK Executive Director, Neil Jameson's guest blog for the Greenbelt website: http://www.greenbelt.org.uk/still-building-years

 "At the beginning of this year, to mark Donald Trump’s ascendance to President of the United States, Citizens UK joined hundreds of people and organisations around the world, dropping banners from bridges to send a simple, hopeful message: we will build bridges, not walls in the face of hate, fear, lies and division.

The action followed divisive and discriminatory comments by President Trump, and his plans to build a wall on the US border with Mexico to halt migration.

The action was a sage reminder that Citizens UK’s civic leaders have been building bridges between communities for more than 28 years now – engendering peaceful, pragmatic and humanitarian resolutions to the challenges facing us all. 

Global problems are bringing huge issues into the heart of our communities, many of which are already challenged by poverty and poor housing. There are no easy solutions, but there are solutions. Understandable fears about migration, and deep concern about the impact on progressive communities of war and famine in the developing world, demand that we seek innovative and humanitarian solutions that stretch boundaries and require much bridge building.

Along with our many partners from faith groups, churches, communities and campaigns, we are committed to finding sustainable, shared solutions to contemporary issues, forging agreements within disparate communities where we share common goals.

We have several projects already underway including:

  • The UK Community Sponsorship of Syrian refugee families when they come to the UK.
  • Safe Passage – helping 1000 refugee children (so far) get reunited with UK families.
  • The real Living Wage – pressing employers (3,000 so far) to pay the real Living Wage.
  • The Community Land Trusts, making urban home ownership affordable for local people. 
  • Community Action – supporting communities to make changes locally.
  • The Citizens Commission on Islam, Participation and Public Life will report in Summer 2017.

We encourage practical actions to tackle local issues to improve family life – safer streets, better wages and cheaper houses, and have attracted some recognition too for our work with refugees through Safe Passage.

Our success has rested on getting communities to help themselves, teaching people and institutions how to take power in alliance with others, and encouraging powerful groups to assist those who are less powerful, especially child refugees or those on low pay working for less than the real Living Wage. 

We also work to build robust and diverse alliances that are powerful enough to play a significant part in the governance of their neighbourhood, region or the UK itself.

We have been especially challenged this year by the government ending the child refugee transfer and rescue programme created by Lord Dubs. We believed we had an agreement to transfer 2000 children already registered to come to the UK, but now that has been cut to only 350, leaving many to fend for themselves in Italy, Greece and France. We know some of them are living on the streets.

 Through Safe Passage and partner organisations we are working to ensure the safety of as many child refugees that we can. We are also organizing the Community Sponsorship of Syrian refugees, who without this may not be allowed into the UK. We have also published a step by step guide for communities or individuals who wish to sponsor Syrian refugees in the UK, Welcoming Syrian Refugees

Another major problem facing citizens everywhere in the UK and especially in London is the shortage of truly affordable housing. Over many years we have been working to bring the model of Community Land Trusts (CLT) to urban communities, and this year will see our first CLT homeowners move into London CLT properties bought for less than one third of the market value. The properties are priced on local earnings, and if subsequently sold again, the prices must again reflect earnings, not market value, keeping them affordable in the longer term. The model is now increasingly popular and we await news of more planning consents-and gifted land, so the model can expand nationwide. 

It is twenty years since Citizens UK was founded under the banner of The East London Citizens Organisation [TELCO] working for the ‘common good’.

Since then there have been five Prime Ministers – John Major, Tony Blair, Gordon Brown, David Cameron and currently Theresa May (and who knows after June 8), – and three London Mayors – Ken Livingston, Boris Johnson and now Sadiq Khan.  We’ve had the aftermath of 9/11 and 7/7. We have Brexit. We have a new President of the United States, and we have the challenges of climate change, migration and changes to the world order. And now a snap General Election, too.

The world has changed, politics has changed, the way we communicate has changed. But despite this, some basic issues remain: poverty, poor housing, inequality, war and famine prevail. To tackle these issues, Citizen UK continues encouraging a new generation of hundreds of civic leaders to hone the patient craft of politics and organising, to make life better where they can.

We look forward to seeing you at this year’s Greenbelt and are proud to be partnering with this wonderful Festival – together working for the common good.

That’s what Citizens UK is all about."

Neil Jameson, Executive Director, Citizens UK


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Interview with Edwin Nganga - a Teacher from Leyton Sixth Form College


Edwin Nganga teaches computer science, engineering and ICT at Leyton Sixth Form College. Edwin is the College's relationship manager for Pathways to Engineering on the Good Jobs Campaign. He has been overseeing the workshops and is currently supporting students on their journey with Atkins.






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Milton Keynes pupils demand road improvements on walk to school

Milton Keynes school children have called for 50 road safety and environmental improvements to mark the town's 50th birthday.

Today 300 pupils walked from their six Milton Keynes schools to Civic Offices to ask the Leader of the Council for 50 improvements to the Redways to make their routes to school safer and cleaner.

Employees from local businesses including Dentons, Santander and Shoosmiths, joined the action and pledged to help support schools on Redway litter patrols later this term.


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Need for urgent transfer of 80 children from fire damaged refugee camp


 Charities call on government to urgently transfer 80 children from Dunkirk ruins to family in the UK

 In response to the fire which razed the Dunkirk refugee camp to the ground last night, leaving hundreds of people homeless, charities are calling on the UK government to transfer the children from the camp who have a legal right to be with their families in the UK.

Safe Passage, a project of Citizens UK, in partnership with the Dunkirk Legal Centre and Help Refugees have identified 80 children in Dunkirk who have relatives in the UK and the right to be safely and legally transferred. Given the extreme distress that the children now face, charities are calling on the UK government to transfer them immediately.

 Currently no arrangements have been made by French or UK authorities for the safe accommodation of unaccompanied children from the Dunkirk camp leaving the children at real risk of disappearing in the chaos.

 Safe Passage have sent the list of 80 Dublin eligible children to the UK Home Office, and will be sharing that list with their French counterparts.

 Rabbi Janet Darley, spokesperson for Citizens UK’s Safe Passage project, said:

“The children Safe Passage are working with in Dunkirk should never have been in the camp in the first place; they have a moral and a legal right to be with their relatives in the UK. The government needs to learn the lessons of the Calais camp and the fire in Dunkirk and put a fully functioning family reunion system in place between France and the UK.”


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Tackle Poverty With the True Living Wage says Conservative MP Kevin Hollinrake


When we talk about poverty in the UK today, we rarely mean the level of malnutrition and squalor of previous centuries. In fact, it may come as a surprise to many that, of the 13 million people who are living in poverty in the UK, over half are in employment. The APPG for Poverty, of which I am the chairman, is looking at ways of increasing the understanding of poverty amongst all parliamentarians, as well as looking for solutions.

 So, poverty is not all about getting people into work. We must also address the issues of in-work poverty and encourage businesses, where possible, to pay the voluntary Living Wage. I do understand how tough things are for businesses and that some cannot afford to pay their staff more, but I do believe that the time has come for us to consider introducing a policy gradually to bring the National Minimum Wage to the level of the National Living Wage.


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St Cuthbert's Care becomes Living Wage employer

The photo shows St Cuthbert's Care Chief Executive, Moira Ashman (front centre) with nursing home residents Dorothy Barrow (left) and Rose Elliott (right) and Carers (back row L-R) Ginse Xavier, Kamila Ball-Kiklowicz and Jodie Finnigan.

Regional charity, St Cuthbert's Care, becomes Living Wage Employer

 St Cuthbert's Care has become the first regional charity of its kind in the North East to become an accredited Living Wage employer with the Living Wage Foundation.

By committing to become an accredited Living Wage employer, the charity has pledged to meet the Foundation's independently calculated assessment of a fair wage, paying a minimum of £8.45 per hour for all employees over the age of 18. St Cuthbert’s Care’s lowest hourly wage rate, effective from 1 April 2017, is £8.50, regardless of age.

St Cuthbert's Care has 370 employees and 30 volunteers, and its core registered services comprise four children’s homes, two nursing homes and a range of provision for disabled children and adults. In addition, the charity provides support across its regional communities.


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