Who are we?
We are Citizens Essex, a Citizens UK Chapter. Our Chapter is formed of sixteen local and strategic institutions, including churches, universities, colleges, schools and community groups; with local alliances in Colchester and Chelmsford and another developing in Southend.
Together, we organise to overcome injustice and win change on the things that you and your local communities care about most. We are organising together for a:
- Safer Essex
- Welcoming Essex
- Accessible Essex
- Fairer Essex
- Healthier Essex
Our first local alliance founded in Colchester in 2019 and Chelmsford citizens founded in 2023. Since then we have:
- Won a campaign to create the first inclusive women-only swimming session in Colchester.
- Won improved signposting on mental health provision for young people in Colchester
- Won improved lighting and safety at Greenstead roundabout
- Provided devices for service-users of Colchester Food Bank and YMCA Essex to assist with digital inclusion
- Supported Southend Borough Council to become an accredited real Living Wage employer
- Secured a commitment from Essex PFCC to make streets safer around Anglia Ruskin University campus, whilst also committing to make it easier to report misogyny as a hate crime in Essex
- Won an Excellence in Teaching award for the 'Democracy in Action' module we teach at Essex University
- Delivered Ruskin Modules at Anglia Ruskin University
- Won commitment from Southend and Basildon Borough Councils for Malachi housing units
- Welcomed displaced Ukrainians through Communities for Ukraine
- And much more!
What are we fighting for?
The priority issues voted on by members in our community include:
- Neighbourhood safety
- Welcoming refugees
- A real Living Wage for care workers
- Accessible housing for the homeless
- Colchester to become a Living Wage City
We’re bringing together everyday people and local organisations to build a better, fairer society
- The Diocese of Chelmsford
- University of Essex
- Anglia Ruskin University, Chelmsford
- YMCA Essex
- Colchester Citadel
- Chelmsford Citadel
- Colchester Foodbank
- Southend Community Sponsorship
- CAST, Southend
- Divine Assembly Ministries, Colchester
- Bridgeway Mission
- Castle Methodist Church
- Southend City College
- Chelmsford College
- The Cathedral School
- Trust Links
In 2023 we celebrated the founding of Chelmsford Citizens at Anglia Ruskin University.
Founding members The Diocese of Chelmsford, Anglia Ruskin University, YMCA Essex, Chelmsford Citadel, The Cathedral School and Unison Essex turned out 180 people. Three candidates for Chelmsford City elections attended to respond to the asks from across the Chapter. Candidates agreed that, if elected, they would meet with Chelmsford leaders to discuss housing, fair wages and support for Ukrainian refugees in Chelmsford.
The Deputy Commissioner of the Essex Police, Fire & Crime Commission also attended and we continue to enjoy a constructive relationship with the PFCC through quarterly meetings to review issues of safety that they have power to act on.
During 2023 we organised some relational experiments in Southend to help weave trust and strengthen relationships across diversity, so we can grow power to make change in the city. Local leaders from across civil society agreed to work together and host Weaving Trust events where we would learn the power of conversation.
Southend Mosque hosted the first event bringing twenty members of their community. They were joined by another twenty from across different organisations.
Trust Links, a mental health charity in Southend, hosted the second event and twenty-five people enjoyed getting to know one another while walking around the beautiful gardens.
These events prepared us for our largest action where one hundred and sixty people gathered at Southend City College with the ambition of having one thousand relational encounters...which we achieved! You can watch a video that the college made about it here.
Why hold a Weaving Trust?
- To foster intentional relationships and train diverse people to build unified power
- To celebrate difference and grow relational power as an action to counter polarisation
- To identify a team of institutions and leaders who will organise to build a Citizens alliance and an enduring community connection
- To build the power of civil society to understand issues and work together for change
Want to know more? Contact your organiser about doing relational experiments in your Chapter.
Citizens Essex work closely with our strategic partner The University of Essex to deliver the award-winning final year module, Democracy in Action.
Packed with hands-on experience, this Capstone module attracts students from across specialisms who are passionate about making change and want to learn the methodology to make it reality. After being introduced to the 5 Steps of Community Organising, the students BUILD their action teams and take time to LISTEN to issues that students and Colchester Citizens member organisation are concerned about. Then they do a power analysis and make a PLAN of what action they want to take. After this they take ACTION on the issue they have identified in the hope of creating an opportunity to NEGOTIATE with the people who have the power to make decisions. At the end of their module they present their reflections and experiences, often to power-holders who they invite to listen.
Click here to see inspiring stories from Democracy in Action as the University of Essex celebrates it's 60th year.
Want to join our Chapter?
We know everyday people have the ability to shape the world around them and we're always looking for new members to join us!
Find out more about the benefits of becoming a Citizens UK member.
Get in touch with our local Community Organisers, Juliet Kilpin (firstname.lastname@example.org) and Grace Claydon (email@example.com), and fill out our form below to hear updates from our Chapter.