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A Report from our Representative on the Citizens UK Council

Citizens Cymru Wales is a Chapter of Citizens UK.  We are entitled to send up to 8 leaders from Wales to represent us at the Citizens UK Council, which deals with political and campaign issues at UK level.  Alan Twelvetrees from Swansea is a co-opted member of the Citizens Cymru Wales Leadership Team, and one of our representatives on the Citizens UK Council.  Here Alan briefs us on recent developments...

Citizens UK Council Issues

Neil Jameson is stepping down from his role as Executive Director of Citizens UK in August this year. There has been much consultation with council members as to the best process to use to appoint a successor. Those who wanted to have a say have been able to make a contribution. Matthew Bolton, currently one of two Deputy Directors, was recently appointed to be the new Executive Director.

Community organising across the UK is expanding fast due in part to a Big Lottery grant of £900,000 with the number of Citizens UK chapters set to increase from 11 to more than 20 over the next two years. Over the last few years there has been much success through local and national campaigns and actions on a wide range of issues. Citizens UK Council Working Groups have been set up under a ‘National Vision for the Future’ for developing national campaigns on:

  • Refugees and Migrants
  • Fair deal
  • Housing and homelessness
  • Mental Health
  • Hate Crime

These areas were agreed after discussion and prioritisation at Citizens UK Council. Inevitably some chapters are currently stronger on some of these than others are and are taking a lead on these. We need to see how we can contribute to the development of these in the next months and how this with feed through to UK-wide action on these areas.

As the organisation expands and develops new foci, it’s vitally important to ensure balance between bottom-up governance and national action and negotiation. Consequently, it was agreed by Council to set up a Governance of the UK working group with this as a standing item on the Council agenda. Over the last few years our main organising work has been slightly side-tracked because of several national and local elections, some of which were unexpected. Now there is the prospect of a period with no elections (but who can be sure!).

Other highlights from Citizens UK at a UK-wide level:

  • We have been involved for several years with the Greenbelt Festival and are partnering with them again this year. Many people and organisations are involved in this who have similar values to ourselves and many useful connections have been made in developing people as community leaders through our involvement.
  • There is widespread support in chapters for a proposal to reduce the voting age to 16 for national and local elections. A strategy is being developed on this.
  • On Friday 29 June there will be a national Citizens UK assembly. Andrea Leadsom MP, and Leader of the House of Commons, will be representing the Government.
  • Chapter reports from across the UK highlighted much interesting and innovative work  
  • There is discussion about a 6-12 month project ‘Developing the craft at national level’ to learn lessons from past successes and failures.

If you want to know anything more about any of the areas covered then do get in contact: altrees@live.com

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