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Our history


We were founded as the Citizens Organising Foundation in East London in 1989, by Neil Jameson CBE.

At the heart of our work then and now is our method of social change - 'community organising'. This way of making change drew inspiration from our sister organisation, the Industrial Areas Foundation (IAF), and before that, the US civil rights movement. The UK too has a rich history of people organising this way: the Levellers, the Abolitionists, the Chartists, early trade unionists like the match girls and dock strikers, and the Suffragettes.

We were founded on the principle that everyday people have power. And that by bringing people together across their differences, we can find common ground and make change.

Since our founding, we have won £2bn in additional wages for low-paid workers, secured an amnesty of ‘legacy cases’ for 160,000 asylum applicants, and won many victories at the local and regional levels.

Our projects

We also run innovative social change projects dedicated to creating long-term change, borne from our local listening and campaigns. The largest of our projects is the Living Wage Foundation, which now accredits a network of over 14,000 employers who pay the real Living Wage. We are also the proud home of Parents and Communities Together (PACT), Sponsor Refugees, and Refugees and Migrants Welcome.


Some of our campaigns have gone on to become independent organisations that started life in Citizens UK, such as Safe Passage and the London Community Land Trust.

Our timeline

Hover over a shape to reveal a crucial part of our history - including our projects, chapters and campaigns. Click on a shape to make it 'stick', and access the links to read more.

PROJECTS: The Living Wage Foundation, Sponsor Refugees and Parents and Communities Together (PACT) are three of Citizens UK's major and established projects working to make change. Read more and get involved with them.

CHAPTERS: We have eighteen regional chapters, made up of local organisations who work together to make change. Find your local chapter.

CAMPAIGNS: Communities across the country are campaigning on the issues that matter most to them, from campaigning for zebra crossings on dangerous roads, to reforming the immigration system, to the Living Wage campaign and so much more. Get involved with a campaign.