Last night, Wednesday October 22nd, over 800 people, representing 100 local groups came together at Eglwys y Tabernacl on the Hayes, Cardiff, to attend the Cardiff Citizens and Vale of Glamorgan Citizens Founding Assembly and ratify a series of social justice campaigns they would work on together over the next five years, with the most immediate being a call to make the Rugby World Cup 2015 deliver a legacy of Living Wage jobs for Wales.
Cardiff Citizens and Vale of Glamorgan Citizens are the two newest community organising alliances in the growing Citizens UK network, responsible for campaign successes such as the Sanctuary Pledge campaign to end the detention of children for immigration purposes and the Living Wage campaign, accrediting over 900 employers and improving the wages of more than 30,000 workers. Locally, leaders trained by Citizens have succeeded in persuading Nando’s to create the first chain restaurant where Muslims and non-Muslims can eat together in Cardiff, won more pupil-friendly services from Cardiff Bus, and campaigned for Cardiff University to pay the Living Wage. More alliances are developing across South Wales under the banner of Citizens Cymru Wales.
Jim Barnaville , Co-chair of Cardiff Citizens, said :
“Cardiff Citizens and Vale of Glamorgan Citizens unite diverse communities to work on issues for the common good. Working together we are stronger.
“Before formally beginning our work as Citizens alliances, members of our congregations and groups have been trained to listen to their friends and neighbours and identify areas of worry and need. These conversations have formed the basis of our plan of action.”
Dr Eva Elliott, of the Cardiff School of Social Sciences and Canton Uniting Church, said:
“We have launched an ambitious social justice agenda for the next five years. We agreed to initiate campaigns together to tackle poverty and inequality, ensure a fair day’s pay for a fair day’s work through quality Living Wage jobs, make businesses and services more responsive to people’s needs, keep a welcome in our communities by improving relationships with each other and those in need, and to overcome powerlessness by training citizen leaders with the skills they need to achieve change.”
Dave Horton, a leader with Cardiff Citizens and a member of Action Caerau & Ely, said:
“Over and over we heard concerns about the problems low-pay and lack of opportunity is having on our neighbourhoods, especially for young people. That’s why we’ve decided to campaign for the first ethical Rugby World Cup - that delivers a legacy of Living Wage jobs for local people. People from across the globe will be visiting our country to enjoy the sporting spectacle. This is our chance to showcase Wales doing the right thing by its workforce, respecting and recognising the effort everyone will put into making it a great event. We hope the example will persuade others that those who can should pay the Living Wage.”
The call for the World Cup in Wales to be a Living Wage event follows in the footsteps of a successful negotiation by London Citizens to ensure that the 2012 Olympics benefitted local people with job opportunities at Living Wage rate or above.
Further campaigns will focus on training young people to be more active in public life, improving access into skilled jobs, and supporting a call for vulnerable refugees from UN camps in warzones to be resettled In South Wales.
The campaigns have been selected following the largest face-to-face community listening campaign the capital and Vale have ever seen. Over 5,000 local people were consulted by participating community leaders, and asked to share stories of what was putting pressure on them and their families, what they would like to change about their neighbourhood, and what they would do if they were Prime Minister. In total 1,000 local people are expected to act as ‘Community Listeners’ listening to 10,000 stories in total this year.