It is an understatement to say that 2020 has been a challenging year that has impacted us as individuals, families and communities. As members of Harrow Citizens and Brent Citizens we have responded in a variety of ways – from ensuring that nobody in our institutions is “left behind” to adapting our ways of working and continuing to develop leaders and take public action for the common good.
We look forward to building on all this work with you in 2021 and become even more powerful and diverse. For now, please find some highlights from 2020.
Students from Mahfil Ali SICM's Madrasah take part in Community Organising training, September 2020.
Leaders come together to respond to the covid-19 pandemic
- All member institutions turned into community hubs to the best of their availability, with some even opening new foodbanks.
- Money was raised to donate laptops to young people across Harrow and Brent who were struggling to keep up with schoolwork at home due to the digital divide, with Willesden New Testament Church of God, Newman Catholic College and Syrian families supported by Brent Action 4 Refugees and by the Harrow Citizens Refugees Welcome Action Team all benefiting.
- Members of Kol Chai Reform Jewish Community supplied hundreds of NHS compliant scrubs and face shields to frontline workers across Harrow and Hillingdon, after raising over £1,000 to purchase materials and enlisting volunteers to sew scrubs.
Brent Citizens schools prioritise development of young leaders
- Newman Catholic College students took part in a 3-month online training programme on Community Organising, following a successful student-led campaign that saw the College persuade Brent Council to invest in new lights on nearby Roundwood Park, making the area safer. Y11 students are now facilitating the North London Citizens afterschool club sessions with a new cohort of Y7 students who are eager to follow in their footsteps, develop as leaders and win change!
- Teachers from the Al Zahra and Al Sadiq schools have taken part in a 5-week online training programme for Education Leaders and are now building a Citizens team to increase the participation of the schools’ students, staff and parents in 2021. Watch this space!
- Ark Academy Student Councillors have completed an internal listening campaign to identify worthwhile and winnable issues that they can organise around to improve their school community: from improving the way in which pupils on Free School Meals can use their lunch money, to making the school more inclusive to LGBT+ students… Student Councillors are progressing their campaigns!
Harrow Citizens leaders make progress on homelessness and mental health campaigns
- Our action team on housing, led by St John RC Fisher and Kol Chai, has expanded and welcomed members from St Alban’s church and the Harrow Salvation Army. We have gained Harrow Council’s support for our campaign to build 8-12 high quality modular homes for people facing homelessness in the Borough following the “Malachi Place” model of community-led supported accommodation. After a neighbourhood walk helped us find potential sites, we are about to identify the most suitable site and start the planning application process.
- Leaders from the Mental Health action team have had meetings with Harrow GPs and the Clinical Commissioning Group, which led to commitments to work with us to circulate the Directories produced by our leaders on Mental Health services in the Borough as widely as possible and to explore the possibility of establishing a one-stop-shop health service for people in Harrow who are vulnerable and would benefit from a holistic range of services under one roof.
- Brent Citizens are joining forces with Ealing Citizens to campaign on affordable housing as well as Living Wage jobs on the Old Oak Common and Park Royal development – the largest in Europe! After putting these issues at the heart of the Brent Poverty Commission’s recommendations, we aim to take these asks to the London Citizens Mayoral Assembly in April 2021 too.
- Harrow Citizens leaders are coming together to take joint action on the climate crisis, learning from the listening campaign spearheaded by St Peter’s church in Autumn 2020 and making plans for how we can get hundreds of households in our respective congregations to switch to a greener, more ethical energy supplier – tackling fuel poverty by saving money on energy bills and reducing the amount of CO2 we emit into the atmosphere all in one go!
- In collaboration with Near Neighbours, Harrow Citizens is launching a women-only leadership training programme – get in touch to find out more. And thanks to funding from Citizens UK’s “Parents and Communities Together” Project, leaders from North Harrow Mosque and Wealdstone Methodists will be opening a babybank in Wealdstone to support vulnerable parents and provide a space for parents who would otherwise not access Community Organising opportunities to do so.