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East London

TELCO (The East London Citizens Organisation) is the founding Chapter of Citizens UK. We are a powerful alliance of over 80 civil society institutions comprised of trade unions, faith groups, charities, schools and universities, all working together to make East London a better place to live.

We organise communities to act together for social justice and the common good, developing the leadership capacity of our members so they can hold our cities' decision-makers to account on the issues that matter to them. TELCO has a proud 20-year history. We pioneered the Living Wage campaign; Community Land Trust Housing; Ethical Olympics; and Good Jobs for young people. In addition to these successful campaigns, we are currently working on new campaigns on hate crime; mental health; and energy poverty. If your institution is not yet in membership, we'd love to have a conversation with you. Involvement in a Citizens UK alliance is one of the best ways for you and your organisation to make a tangible difference in your borough and London wide, whilst developing the leadership skills and capacity of your membership.

To arrange a sit down with one of our organisers, contact: emmanuel.gotora@citizensuk.org

Sign up for updates from this chapter here.



TELCO’s Annual Meeting and Awards event was a powerful moment for reflection, celebration, and call to action on important social justice issues for communities in east London. Click to find out more.

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Community Land Trust and affordable homes win in Waltham Forest

On Sunday 21 October 2018, church and mosque leaders, school children and local campaigners walked between the Lea Bridge and The Score housing development sites, meeting Cllr Simon Miller at St Marys Church in Leyton. Cllr Miller committed to ensuring that 50% of the homes built on these 2 sites will be classified as affordable. In particular, Cllr Miller announced that a Community Land Trust proposal has been written into the developer brief for the Lea Bridge site. This would be the first CLT in Waltham Forest. [see below for additional information on CLTs]

These announcements follow a year of campaigning by Waltham Forest Citizens (WFC), an alliance of 10 education and faith organisations in Waltham Forest. Before the 2018 local election, WFC listened to 1200 local people and built a People’s Agenda that included asking for 50% of all homes built on public land to be classified as affordable, starting with the Lea Bridge Road, The Score and Whipps Cross Hospital sites. In addition, WFC called on the next administration to build 1200 new social rent homes and 600 CLT homes. At the pre-election Accountability Assembly in April 2018, Cllr Coghill agreed to these asks and has subsequently confirmed her commitment to them in 2 follow-up meetings we have had with her in May and September 2018.

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A London Living Wage can help end child poverty

Peter Hill, Bishop of Barking writes why the Living Wage is so important to East London boroughs like Newham and Barking (originally published in the Newham Recorder in September)

As the new term starts, too many children will go back to school hungry because their families’ incomes don’t cover the essentials needed to live in Newham. The absence of free school meals over the recent six-week summer break means extra costs families can ill afford.

Even for people in work, life can be tough because of the high cost of London living, with rent and travel cost taking up a huge proportion of monthly income. The latest figures from KPMG and Living Wage Foundation show that nearly 1 in 5 (19%) of all Londoners are earning below the London Living Wage – these figures don’t account for self-employed people who are often earning below the government minimum.

Ending in work poverty is a huge challenge but if we have the heart and the will to get together we can make a change. When people recognise need and get organised, we can transform our communities for the better.

Every day, Christians in parishes across East London are living out their faith in a wide range of ways: running community projects, teaching, working with young people, organising winter night shelters and caring for the vulnerable. We also work in alliance with other faith and non-faith community groups within community organising charity Citizens UK to look at ways to address failures in the system that harm the community. Efforts to tackle poverty are growing in scale and sophistication and now include debt advice centres, foodbanks and advice services.

One big contribution to diminishing poverty came about thanks to community leaders right here in East London: The London Living Wage, the amount calculated as the minimum needed to survive in the capital. Back in 2001, members from the East London branch of Citizens UK brought together churches, mosques, schools and other local institutions to talk about the issues affecting their communities. People were working two or three minimum wage jobs and still struggling to make ends meet. They had no time for family life. Back then the government’s minimum wage was just £3.70 an hour.

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TELCO Citizens celebrate 50% affordable housing news for the former London Olympic Site and seek living wage and community-led housing legacy

Community leaders from Newham Citizens, part of community alliance London Citizens, today thanked Mayor Sadiq Khan after he made a commitment to 50% affordable housing on future developments on the Olympic site and asked that the Mayor work with LLDC and the local community to ensure 100 Community Land Trust homes[1] and more social housing is part of the mix.

Newham Citizens is keen to bring the same energy and enthusiasm which brought Community Land Trust homes to the first ever location in London, St Clements, to the Eastwick and Sweetwater developments on the Olympic Site. Community Land Trust homes are priced according to local earnings, ensuring that people are no longer priced out of the area.

Newham Citizens call for affordable housing and living wage Olympic commitment

To combat many of Newham’s housing problems, campaigners are encouraging higher proportions of living rent, social housing and Community Land Trust homes in the housing mix. 60 Newham Citizens residents attended a tour with senior executives of LLDC (London Legacy Development Corporation) after holding a community meeting to hear concerns on housing and wages.

East London still has some of the highest levels of housing deprivation in the country and this has worsened since the Olympic Games were held, with many families forced to leave the borough because of the lack of housing and London Living Wage jobs. The hope from campaigners is that a Living Wage and genuinely affordable housing boost could help more struggling families with a lifeline of affordable homes and better paid jobs.


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Legacy Tour of the Olympic Park: join us

New tower blocks continue to be built next door on the Olympic Park. But who are these homes for? Is this luxury housing for developers to profit or homes for local people? There are 15,000+ jobs coming to the Olympic Park in the next few years, will these go to local people and will people be paid a decent wage? Read more to find out how this action can help us get some clear answers.

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5 reasons why my Baptist church joined Citizens UK

Phil Warburton has worked as a Baptist Pastor in the East End of London for 20 years. In this blog he explains why he sees community organising as an integral part of urban ministry. He has recently become a Community Organiser with Citizens UK in Tower Hamlets and continues his work as a Pastor.

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Students make their voices count at Waltham Forest Accountability Assembly

Students from Leyton Sixth Form College played a vital part in making Waltham Forest's Assembly prior to the Local Elections in May 2018 a success. They have put together a video that illustrates their contribution to the Assembly, as well as their development into confident young leaders who are actively engaged in public life.

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Affordable homes celebration for London Citizens as two new Community Land Trust sites announced

Members of London Citizens in South and East London celebrated today as the Mayor of London announced a programme to pilot bringing forward small publicly-owned sites to boost the capital’s small homebuilders sector.

The two biggest sites are guaranteed to be 100% community land trust (CLT) homes.

This will mean 60 more families living in a genuinely and permanently affordable CLT homes, priced according to local incomes. Those families will no longer have to choose between overcrowded, indecent living conditions or leaving their friends, family and community for good.

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Newham private tenants protected through Landlord Licensing Scheme

Citizen’s UK welcomes decision on the Newham licensing scheme and renews call for wider landlord licensing across London

Forty one thousand households in Newham who rely on the Landlord Licensing scheme to protect them from bad landlords in the private rental sector will be protected for a further five years. This comes after Housing Minister Alok Sharma extended the li scheme, although two areas in Newham were not included in the renewal.


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West Ham United Football Club joins Living Wage movement


Picture shows: Lola McEvoy, Living Wage Foundation,Tara Warren, Executive Director, Marketing and Communications, West Ham United and Stuart Wright, Chair of Living Wage Advisory Council, who joined Citizens UK leaders and West Ham staff to celebrate accreditation of the football club as a living wage employer.


West Ham United Football Club vice-chairman Karren Brady announces the club is joining the Living Wage movement

Living Wage campaigners at Citizens UK today celebrated the news that West Ham United became an accredited London Living Wage payer at a ceremony at London Stadium this morning.

The Hammers become the third Premier League club to be accredited by the Living Wage Foundation, after Chelsea and Everton.

 The commitment sees everyone at West Ham United, regardless of whether they are direct employees or third party contracted staff, receive a minimum hourly rate of £10.20, significantly higher than the statutory minimum for over 25s of £7.50 per hour.

The Hammers have been paying all permanent employees at the level of the London Living Wage since 1 June 2015, but previously could not be accredited by the Living Wage Foundation due to some London Stadium staff not receiving the London Living Wage. 

London Stadium’s owners have now committed to pay their employees the London Living Wage and are working on setting a timeline to uplift staff wages, which means that West Ham United can now be officially accredited.  TELCO, the East London branch of Citizens UK is working with London stadium workers employed by third party contractors at the venue to confirm the timeline on their own pay increase to London living wage. This was promised earlier this year by the London Stadium following the Mayor of London’s intervention in support of low paid cleaners working there.

The Living Wage campaign is an independent movement that originates from east London, which is supported by businesses, organisations and people who believe 'a hard day's work deserves a fair day's pay'. 

The aim of the movement is to provide an ethical benchmark for responsible pay, and employers choose to pay the real Living Wage on a voluntary basis 

The London Living Wage is independently calculated every year based on what employees and their families need to get by. The calculation is based on a social consensus of what people need for a decent standard of living and to participate fully in society, including things like housing, transport to work and heating, but also enough for small birthday celebration or a trip to the cinema.

 West Ham United vice-chairman Karren Brady said, “We are absolutely delighted to have secured the Living Wage Foundation’s seal of approval as an accredited London Living Wage employer, and hope to act as a good example for all other Premier League clubs and big businesses in London.

“The Living Wage Foundation accreditation is something we have been working towards for a long time, including lobbying the Mayor to help encourage our landlords to commit to paying a fair day’s pay, and we are over the moon to now be in a position where we can finally become a recognised Living Wage employer.

“The football club isn’t just made up of the 11 players on the pitch, and by making this commitment we hope to ensure that West Ham United continues be a place where the best talents want to ply their trade, and London Stadium, Rush Green and Chadwell Heath are environments in which they can achieve their goals. 

"We recognise the contribution of each and every employee at the club, and rewarding and retaining our staff is a major part of that. We take pride in the way we conduct ourselves as an organisation on and off the pitch and by doing the right thing and paying the London Living Wage, we hope this will urge other clubs to soon follow suit.”



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