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Sticking together in tough times; Citizens UK response to COVID-19 crisis

Phone lit faith group gathering
Phone lit faith group gathering

This is an old blog post. Read about our ongoing response here.

March 2020:

Dear Member Institutions,

These are scary times and we wish you and your loved ones and communities well.

But these are also times when the trust, relationships and power we have built over years of organising can be mobilised to support our communities and our country at a time of unprecedented strain.

The first priority for us is the well-being of our members and staff so we have shifted all of Citizens UK’s activities to a work from home approach and all meetings taking place on phone or video call. With the elections postponed we are shifting the big Assemblies planned in London, Manchester, South Wales, Birmingham and Essex to next year.

In this time of crisis, our mission remains as important as ever. With the need for physical distancing comes a danger of isolation, with the worry of infection comes the possibility of prejudice and with economic disruption those already struggling become even more vulnerable.

We need to stay together, to listen and take considered action – so while we may have to distance ourselves physically, we increase our social solidarity, and our commitment to work together for the common good.

Citizens leaders and organisers have already begun to develop solutions such as:

  • Working with schools and education partners to persuade supermarkets and Government to ensure no child on free school meals goes hungry if schools close.
  • Planning to crowdfund for local hardship money.
  • Lobbying the Mayor of London to speak out for those migrants for whom a loss of income could jeopardise their immigration claim.
  • Offering to put our people power at the disposal of local authorities to support the needs of the most vulnerable in their care, such as resettled refugees or those with social care needs.

So here’s what we’re proposing:

We are going to initiate a rapid listening campaign, carried out by phone and on-line, so we can hear how this situation is affecting our membership, particularly the most vulnerable, and what creative responses we can take.

We appreciate everyone’s first concern will be themselves and their loved ones. If you also have the motivation and ability to get involved, then we invite you to be part of this listening exercise. On this link you can find a set of easy questions and you can feed through what you learn. .

Could you connect with a few people in and around your organisation, and share your listening with us by Monday?

We will be sharing what comes out of this in a week or so to keep people in touch.

Of course, also pick up the phone to your Organiser with any ideas or questions.

With all best wishes,

Matthew Bolton

Posted on 19 Mar, 2020