addarrow-downarrow-leftarrow-rightarrow-up82CF3E98-D323-4B3E-9EDD-EF2E73FB5C9E@1xcancelcircularclockClose IcondowndownloademailIcons / Social / FacebookfilterhomeIcons / Social / InstagramleftIcons / Social / LinkedIn895A4639-EEE0-4BEB-B7D1-CAB21217861B@1xMenu Iconremoverightsearchtagtik-toktranslateIcons / Social / TwitterupIcons / Social / YouTube

2000 Citizens UK leaders meet with political candidates at a national assembly ahead of the General Election

2000 Citizens UK leaders meet with political candidates at a national assembly ahead of the General Election

Three days before the General Election, 2000 Citizens UK leaders met with Angela Rayner, Deputy Leader of the Labour Party, Richard Newby, Leader of the Liberal Democrats in the House of Lords and Sara Gezdari, Conservative candidate for Richmond Park, calling for responses to our Manifesto issues. Community leaders asked electoral candidates how they will work with Citizens UK, if elected, to bring about change.

We need community-led solutions to issues impacting people’s lives.

This is why thousands of community leaders from Citizens UK's 18 local alliances in England and Wales came together on 1st of July 2024 to celebrate collective power, share stories and build relationships with electoral candidates on issues that matter most to communities.

Angela Rayner speaking on stage at a Citizens UK assembly
Angela Rayner, Deputy Leader of the Labour Party
Lord Newby on stage at a Citizens UK Assembly
Richard Newby, Leader of the Liberal Democrats in the House of Lords
Sarah Gezdari on stage at a Citizens UK Assembly
Sara Gezdari, Conservative candidate for Richmond Park

From a real Living Wage for social care workers, a fair pathway to citizenship, to safe and healthy homes, community leaders asked questions to candidates, entertained with powerful performances and came together to build community-led power. Amongst key pledges by candidates, Angela Rayner (Labour) committed to 'fight everyday' to give carers a real Living Wage.

"When I was younger, I would rarely see people who looked like me or were like me playing dynamic roles in public life and I want to be part of changing that. But this assembly is not just about who is on stage. It’s not like watching a TV debate, we are not spectators, passively listening to politicians. Tonight is about our collective agenda." - Grace, an Essex Citizens leader and co-chair at the Assembly.

A real Living Wage for care workers

"I’m Nkem, from London Citizens. I've been a care worker for eight years and have three wonderful teenage children. We need at least the real Living Wage for carers so I can spend time with my teenagers. And a pathway to citizenship that is timely, affordable and fair so I can truly belong here.”

We asked for support ensuring at least the real Living Wage for care workers. Angela Rayner (Labour) shared her own experiences as a care worker and said she will 'fight everyday' to give carers the wage they deserve.

“I was a care worker when I was younger. There were some people that didn't respect us for what we did. Looked down on us for living in a council house or being a single parent and the wages and the conditions were not what they ought to be.”

A fair pathway to citizenship

"Even though I’ve been in the UK 17 years, and put down roots here, I’m not yet a citizen so my family and I have to pay thousands of pounds in Home Office fees. Despite having renewed our visas almost 30 times between us, my family is still stuck in the labyrinth of uncertainty and anxiety." Eddy, a Citizens UK leader.
Lord Newby on stage at a Citizens UK Assembly

On citizenship, we asked for support in creating a more timely, affordable and fair pathway.

Richard Newby agreed "we definitely need to improve the pathway", including "reducing the fees for a child to become a British Citizen, and reducing waiting periods".

"Even though I’ve been in the UK 17 years, and put down roots here, I’m not yet a citizen so my family and I have to pay thousands of pounds in Home Office fees. Despite having renewed our visas almost 30 times between us, my family is still stuck in the labyrinth of uncertainty and anxiety." Eddy, a Citizens UK leader.

Housing and Homelessness

"When I moved into my Council home, there was mould on the walls that has now spread to every room, which impacts my health. The next Government must introduce a UK-wide home repair and upgrade strategy to make our homes safer, healthier, and greener." - Helen, a Cardiff Citizens leader
Fatiha Benmerzouk, South London Citizens, campaigning for more affordable housing for families.

"I live with my husband in temporary accommodation and for the past four years we have been moved four times across East, South, North London. My daughter asked me 'what is our next destination', is it West? Will you commit to improve the quality of temporary accommodation and make sure that families with children don't get stuck endlessly?"

"If I'm elected, I'll try very hard to remember what you said to make sure that we look after families. You have my absolute pledge that I will fight everyday to get those spaces right, get those homes built, to make sure that those landlords, regardless of who they are, give you decent homes to live in as well." Angela Rayner, Deputy Leader of the Labour Party.

On housing, we asked them to work with us on making our homes safer, healthier and greener, improving the quality of temporary accommodation.

Angela Rayner shared "I know the difference a warm, safe home can make to a family…we will build new council homes, brick by brick. They will be nice homes, green homes, and ones that you want to live in.”
Sarah Gezdari on stage at a Citizens UK Assembly
Sara Gezdari said "On housing and homelessness, we need more affordable accommodation. We have committed to improve the quality of temporary accommodation.”

Mental Health & Votes at 16

"I can't vote, and my peers and I lack the mental health support we need, waiting years to be seen. We need statutory counselling in every school & college in England, so every young person has support. Plus, votes at 16 to take the next step in our democracy" - Lysander, a Brighton & Hove Citizens Leader

We’re campaigning for votes at 16 and asked politicians to ensure that 16 year olds have the right to vote by the next General Election.

We're campaigning for schools-based counsellors in all schools across England so that young people can have someone who is qualified to address mental health struggles.

Richard Newby said : “We’ve been campaigning for votes at 16 for many years…they should have that chance”.
Angela Rayner expressed commitment to “trained mental health professionals in every school”.

Racial Equity in Education

"We need a more just curriculum, diverse leadership and better systems to deal with racist incidents: so my friends and I don’t have to work twice as hard to be understood." - Joanny, leader at Nottingham Citizens campaigning for racial equity in education.

We asked for politicians to work with us for racial equity in education, including curriculum reform, teacher training and addressing inequities in the teaching workforce. Richard Newby responded: “We will be working on a reform of the curriculum which will look at the issues that you’re talking about. We see it as part of a global racial equality strategy which really brings people together to deal with the problem.”

Welcoming Refugees

Fahim, a community leader, shared powerful testimony on his own story and the need for a streamlined Community Sponsorship process, building on the Homes for Ukraine and Communities for Afghans schemes so it’s more accessible.
Angela Rayner expressed: “Fahim, it's stories like yours that remind us what compassion really means…I know the difference a great community can make to all of our neighbours.”
Sara Gezdari said "I know first hand how incredibly important what your community does is"

Devolution & Transport

On the devolution of power for transport, we asked that the politicians work with us to shift powers to regional Mayors and then engage with communities in regional Transport Accountability structures.

"We all know it is hard to travel by public transport in the North. When you invest that £1 billion into better bus services will you make sure the bus users and communities are involved in shaping services and holding providers to account through involvement in regional public transport accountability boards?" Matthew, from Lancashire Citizens.
Sara Gezdari shared: “I strongly support local transport, including bus services, connecting communities and being accountable to communities that they serve...I will work with my colleagues to make sure our bus providers are held to account.”

We look forward to working with the next UK Government on these issues. Together, we know that everyday people can drive the changes they want to see, and our national assembly was a powerful example of this.

The next UK General Election has been called for 4th July 2024!

Our diverse teams of community leaders across the UK are ready for this—they’ve been tirelessly campaigning for the changes they want to see. Over the last few months, they’ve been busy meeting politicians across all parties and sharing their experiences on the issues that matter to them.

We know that together we can create a better, fairer society. Let’s use our democratic power to make that happen.

Posted by Salomé Revault d'Allonnes on 3 Jul, 2024