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Rage is a Passing Howl: Don't Just Get Angry, Get Organised

 

Matthew Bolton, Deputy Director at Citizens UK and author of How to Resist, looks at what actions might be useful following the Grenfell fire. 

 In the aftermath of the Grenfell disaster we need resistance, not rage. Please don’t misunderstand me - I’m not saying don’t be angry. Watching the videos of people stuck in the tower as it burned, seeing the posters with pictures of lost children, knowing that this tragedy happened in the middle of one of the wealthiest places on earth, this is a truly sickening tragedy that warrants our collective ongoing fury. The roots of our word ‘anger’ are in the Norse word for grief and this is avoidable catastrophe and indescribable pain on a once in a generation scale. The question is what we do with the anger.

Channelled into effective resistance, this anger could drive the residents and neighbours in North Kensington to hold those responsible to account, to recreate their community and rebuild their lives. It could see the rest of us make Grenfell become a turning point, a watershed moment where we no longer accept that people in different income brackets have different rights to a home safe from fire. By turning that anger into action, we can create a national movement to say ‘never again’. Not just in a cathartic release of rage but in persistent and dogged campaigning. Success wouldn’t bring back those who died, or cancel out the trauma that will live on in people, but it would save many more lives and might just bring some sense to the tragedy that’s taken place.

 Rage, on the other hand, is a passing howl resulting in some broken windows and placards left in the street to be cleared away. The problem with the ‘day of rage’ protest that took place last week was not just that it was ineffective, though it was. Unsurprisingly several hundred protestors did not bring the Government down and such symbolic protests and one-off mobilisations rarely achieve their grand aims. The more serious fault is that it risks repeating some of the same dynamics that got us here in the first place - that the voices of residents that were not listened to for years, are now not being listened to again. The Lancaster West Resident Association, which covers the estate around the Grenfell tower, has been in membership of Citizens UK for two and a half years. The residents that we’re working with who are connected to scores of local families are more concerned right now with the fundamentals. They want accurate information about the identities of those who lost their lives, they want to know that the air is safe to breathe and the building isn’t going to collapse, they need hot water, since the boiler that serves the whole estate was destroyed in the Grenfell tower. The people truly embedded in local communities tend not to be the voices we’ve read in the newspaper or seen on TV over this last week, myself included.  That could be due to class bias in the media, or that journalists gravitate towards those who are most controversial, or more simply that such people are too busy visiting their neighbours and supporting those in need to be spokespeople. Bigger change must come, but let’s try to listen to those that have not been listened to.

 

 

 

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Breaking the Ramadan Fast with friends in Finsbury Park

North London Citizens, break the Ramadan fast with friends from mosques around Finsbury Park this weekend.

The local  Muslim Welfare House, itself a member-organisation of Citizens UK, was the site of the terrorist attack last week. Quite near to this, is the larger Finsbury Park Mosque, which also attracts many worshippers during Ramadan. North London Citizens membership comprises synagogues, churches, schools and universities. Since the terrorist attack, Citizens have visited the area every night for Iftar.

CUK organiser, Charlotte Fischer, who was at Finsbury Park, said: “We were there offering dates and water to our Muslim friends as they broke their Ramadan fast, to show solidarity and support at this difficult time. We continued this action up to Eid this weekend.”

Citizens UK director, Neil Jameson, said: “We are proud to be with Muslim Welfare House together in London Citizens and feel moved to show our support to their members and their families.”

 

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Nottingham organiser heads south to West London

 

 Lydia Rye, Senior Organiser for West London Citizens.  

Lydia Rye is the new Senior Organiser for West London Citizens. Before this she worked as the Senior Organiser for Nottingham & Maun Valley Citizens, and worked on dozens of campaigns to see real change on issues from hate crime to homelessness and mental health.  She is particularly proud of the work which led to Nottingham becoming the first place in the country to introduce misogyny as a category of hate crime, and of supporting Nottingham Citizens to hold the largest single event in the 2015 general election, bringing together 2,300 people in the city's Royal Concert Hall.  

Before working for Citizens UK Lydia worked for a local charity, overseeing outreach services to sex workers, and is particularly passionate about supporting women to engage in public life. In her spare time she loves to test recipes she's never tried before on groups of unsuspecting friends and to binge watch really bad TV.

Contact: Lydia.Rye@citizensuk.org.uk

 

 

 

 

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Greenbelt Festival discounted tickets until June 30th

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10 days of ticket discounts left

Tier-two discounts expire at midnight on Friday 30 June. Book now to save:

£20 on adult weekend tickets

£11 on 18-25s tickets
£14 on adult concession tickets


Child, youth and first-time leader tickets are fixed at £50. Under 5s are FREE

Get your festival tickets now

 

 

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Response to the terror attack in Finsbury Park

Neil Jameson, director, Citizens UK, said:

"We awake to more horrific news of terrorism on our streets, this time at the Muslim Welfare House, in Finsbury Park. Our thoughts and prayers go out to the victims, families and friends of those affected by this hideous act of violence. The timing of the attack to target Londoners, many of whom were breaking their fast as part of the holy month of Ramadan, and after many of our communities, including the Muslim Welfare House, had joined together to celebrate the Great Get Together in memory of Jo Cox MP, seems a deliberate challenge to our message of unity; however we will remain united.

“The Muslim Welfare House is a Citizens UK member institution along with 350 others across the country; including churches, mosques, synagogues, schools, colleges, trades unions and local community groups. We work together on issues of the common good, because together we are stronger and more powerful to make change happen for our communities. The institutions and people of North London will respond to this attack with love, support and respect for each other, and together we will continue to work as one because we have more in common than divides us."

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Birmingham Great Get Togethers: Iftars in memory of Jo Cox

 

Here’s a quick round up of the Iftars being held by members of Citizens UK Birmingham this weekend as part of the Great Get Together in memory of Jo Cox MP.

Joining us at one of these events was one of the key things that Citizens UK was asking candidates all over the country in the run up to the election. As it happens, some of the Birmingham candidates that we spoke to are attending Great Get Togethers even closer to their own doorstep. There are many other Great Get Togethers happening than just these three – it’s good that Brummies are spoilt for choice.

On Friday, University of Birmingham Islamic Society are hosting one from 9pm:

 https://www.facebook.com/events/305867883206802/

https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/university-of-birmingham-community-iftaar-tickets-35175377501

On Sunday, Aspire & Succeed leaders are part of this one in North-East Birmingham:

And KSIMC are also hosting on the East side of the city:

 https://www.facebook.com/events/130844914136373/

https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/moseley-road-street-iftar-tickets-34575078992?aff=es2

Refugee Week: Next week is also Refugee Week, so check out this link for some activities that are taking place in the West Midlands (Birmingham events start from page 2 onwards) http://refugeeweek.org.uk/in-your-area/west-midlands/

 

 

 

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Greater Manchester's Get Together

 

 https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/greater-manchester-great-get-together-tickets-35192342243

 

Invitation from Brendan Cox, The Jo Cox Foundation, Andy Burnham, Mayor of Greater Manchester and Sir Richard Leese, Leader of Manchester City Council

 

Dear Friend

On behalf of Greater Manchester Citizens, Manchester City Council and the Greater Manchester Combined Authority we would like to invite you to the Greater Manchester Great Get Together.

Inspired by the memory and the values of Jo Cox, the Great Get Together is essentially a chance for people of different communities, faiths and backgrounds to come together in celebration and commemoration. We are honoured that communities and organisations across the country are holding tens of thousands of events across the country, bringing together people of different backgrounds, ages and beliefs.

After the tragic events of the past few weeks where so many innocent lives have been lost in Manchester and London, we believe that it is now more important than ever to unite to express our grief for lives lost, our resolve to fight hate in all its forms and our commitment to hold to our values.

In that light we hope that the many events across Manchester planned for the Great Get Together will provide an opportunity for people to come together. Some will want to gather in the centre of the city and this event, taking place in the Cathedral Gardens just by Manchester Arena, will provide that opportunity.

We are keen that the event unites people from diverse backgrounds from across the Greater Manchester area. We would be delighted if you were able to join us at the event with family, colleagues and other representatives of your community.

 

 

 

 

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Moving Forward: We Have More in Common than Divides Us. MPs and Citizens Working Together for the Common Good

 

An assembly in Birmingham

Citizens UK, the national community organising charity, today looks forward to working with the newly elected MPs from all parties who agreed to help us tackle issues of mutual concern identified at pre-election meetings.

During the snap-election period Citizens UK groups across England and Wales organised 55 events to meet with their local parliamentary candidates; from Citizens Assemblies, to round-table discussions and meetings. These events alerted the parliamentary candidates to local issues and asked them to work with Citizens UK around identified areas of concern. Many MPs agreed to work with Citizens UK local groups, and accepted invitations to join local Great Get Together meals, should they win the parliamentary seat.

Between the 8th and 22nd May, Citizens UK ran a voter registration campaign; 198 people were trained as voter registration ambassadors, 17 colleges ran voter turnout drives, 1,966 people were registered to vote at these actions, and in addition to the intensive voter registration work, we tasked students to maximise ‘reach’, making as many people as possible aware of the voter registration deadline, young people used online and offline tactics from Twitter, to newsletters, canteen stalls, class announcements and email blasts to push the message to over 96,000 people.

Sarah Holtam, co-chair, Citizens UK Council said: “We have come together as diverse institutions and joined forces because we recognise together we are stronger and we have more power when we are united. The work carried out during this snap election means that we now have a great base to start the business of making change happen.

“We respect the elected MPs and look forward to working with them in their constituencies.”

 

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TYNE & WEAR CITIZENS TO BUILD A WORKING RELATIONSHIP WITH NICK BROWN MP, CATHERINE McKINNELL MP, CHI ONWURAH MP AND ALAN CAMPBELL MP

 

Seated from left to right: Revd Simon Mason (Tyne & Wear Citizens), Revd Phil Medley (Tyne & Wear Citizens), Neil Duffy (Tyne & Wear Citizens), Sara Bryson (Community Organiser, Tyne & Wear Citizens), Nick Brown MP.

Tyne & Wear Citizens, part of the national community organising charity, Citizens UK, today welcomes Nick Brown, Catherine McKinnell and Chi Onwurah as the constituency MPs for Newcastle East, Newcastle North and Newcastle Central, and looks forward to working with them in the future. We thank them all for meeting with us in the lead up to the General Election. We also welcome Alan Campbell constituency MP for Tynemouth who has agreed to work with us in the future too.

Before the election Tyne & Wear Citizens held a series of roundtable discussions with prospective parliamentary candidates. At these meetings Tyne & Wear Citizens talked about the types of concerns already coming up in their Listening Campaign, which includes mental health provision, in-work poverty and precarious employment, as well as asking the politicians to agree to meet and begin working with them within 100 days should they be elected.

The aim being to build and develop relationships between civil society members and whoever is elected as the local MP.

 

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Redbridge Citizens Get Together with Wes Streeting MP

 

REDBRIDGE CITIZENS TO BUILD A WORKING RELATIONSHIP WITH WES STREETING MP

Redbridge Citizens, part of national community organising charity, Citizens UK, today welcomes Wes Streeting, returning as the MP for Ilford North and looks forward to working with him in the future.

Captain Naomi Clifton, a leader of Redbridge Citizens from The Salvation Army, Ilford Corps, said: “We are also very pleased that Wes hopes to join us for an iftar to celebrate the Great Get Together on 13 June in memory of Jo Cox, the MP murdered last year. This is a fitting way to mark the start of our common work; local people from a whole host of diverse institutions coming together with their MP to tackle issues around the common good. We have more to unite us than to divide us.”

Before the elections representatives Redbridge Citizens met parliamentary candidates in Gants Hill to tell them their concerns and to invite them to join in the Great Get Together, should they win the parliamentary seat.  Each candidate was also asked to meet Redbridge Citizens at an early stage if elected.

The aim was to build and develop relationships between civil society members and whoever was elected as the local MP.

Taaseen Rahman, from the Redbridge Islamic Centre, said: “We wanted to meet the candidates to let them know which issues were important to us. We thought it would be great if the elected MP joined us for the Great Get Together Meal so they could meet their electorate and help build a strong relationship with civil society. We look forward to working together on building the Living Wage campaign in the Borough, amongst other local issues.”

 

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