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Community groups and individuals settling refugees honoured in national awards ceremony

9 award winners have been recognised by senior figures including Canada’s Deputy Minister for Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, Catrina Tapley, UN High Commission for Refugees (UNCHR) representative in London, Rossella Pagliuchi-Lor and Rt Revd Paul Butler, Bishop of Durham. 

The Community Sponsorship Awards were organised by the Foundation set up and supported by Citizens UK and was co-presented by Hani, one of the first Syrian Refugees to be settled by the scheme in the UK. They marked a special moment to reflect and celebrate some of the work done since the Refugee Welcome movement first shone a light on the refugee crisis. Since that time a groundswell of support helped bring thousands of people to safety.

(c) Ian Brodie / Sponsor Refugees

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Building better hate crime protections: Birmingham's response

Citizens UK, Birmingham ran an event that was both impressive and intimate, with 37 leaders in attendance. Testimony was shared in four themed breakout groups of around ten people, with a chair, timer and note taker each, and with leaders clearly briefed on their themes beforehand. Group themes, such as diaspora, communities, and young people allowed each table to explore experiences of hate and policy solutions

Law Commission evidence hearing


A few leaders were invited to share longer accounts to the room as a whole. There was an horrifying account of the normalised, everyday schoolyard antisemitism faced by a young leader, with jokes about gas chambers often being a daily occurrence, and there was the story of a hijabi Muslim leader being abused in public by an attacker explicitly quoting our Prime Minister’s letterbox comment.

 

 

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How local campaigns reweave bonds of trust between communities

TELCO Co-Chair Fr Angus Ritchie of St George in the East and the Centre for Theology and Community has written for the Guardian about his experiences organising in Tower Hamlets to secure safe, affordable homes for local residents of all backgrounds - and how the tools and principles of Community Organising can offer a powerful antidote to the politics of division which pit us against one another. 

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September 2019 Nottingham Citizens Newsletter

Friday 20th September

Over the next few hours, hundreds of people will gather in market square, joining with millions across the globe for the 'Earth Strike'. With our national politics and democracy in turmoil, this is yet another sign that people are more prepared than ever to stand up for the issues that matter to them. The need to provide a vehicle for change is as relevant as it ever was. And so we push on! Lots of exciting activities, actions and updates to share. 

Firstly, a big Nottingham Citizens welcome to the Nottingham Girls Academy who joined our alliance last month. We are looking forward to introducing you around our membership and making some change together. 

Continue reading for updates from our campaign action teams

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Priced out of the Olympic Park

Yesterday, the housing element of the London Legacy Development Corporation (LLDC) Local Plan was subject to examination in public. Members of The East London Citizens Organisation (TELCO), who campaigned for genuinely affordable homes as part of the original Olympics Bid, say that the LLDC need to raise the bar in their aspirations for affordable housing on the Park in order to ensure that that original commitment of ‘regenerating the area for the entire benefit of everyone that lives there’ becomes a reality. 

Fr Sean Connolly, a local priest with a large congregation of people experiencing housing challenges, said: “It is devastating to see so many of my parishioners living in over-crowded conditions or being forced out of the borough while new houses are being built all around them. While I welcome new housing being built on the Olympic Park, it needs to be affordable and this is a real problem.” The housing crisis in the legacy boroughs is felt across the spectrum ranging from young children living in temporary and overcrowded accommodation, to nurses sharing bedrooms. Local Authority homelessness research from 2018 indicates that whilst the Legacy boroughs constitute only an eighth of London boroughs, they account for a quarter of all households, (5,414 households) placed out of borough. The London Borough of Newham has the highest figures for families placed out of borough, away from their social networks, with local authorities struggling to meet the costs of keeping these families in insecure and overpriced temporary accommodation.

Last year many TELCO Citizens members visited LLDC to hear about plans for the site, but so far the affordable housing commitments have not met the communities expectations.

In response, local community representatives from TELCO are asking the LLDC to introduce a requirement that 50% of all housing in the Legacy area is genuinely affordable by being linked to median household incomes - currently £27,000 across the Legacy boroughs. Community Land Trust housing was a key commitment in the 2005 Olympic Charter and needs to be recognised as part of the intermediate housing offer. Community Land Trust housing remains affordable in perpetuity and is mapped against average local incomes, thus also meeting the Legacy promise of benefitting local communities. Additionally, research has demonstrated that there is a huge gulf between policy and practice.

Dr Penny Bernstock, from the University of West London, and co-chair of the TELCO Olympic strategy team, found that between October 2012 and July 2017, only 19.6% of the housing approved by the LLDC was affordable, falling substantially short of the 35% requirement. Therefore, TELCO are calling on the LLDC to adhere to the requirements of their plan, she said “The evidence is clear, we need to do much more on the former Olympic site to meet London’s affordable housing challenge. Let’s get the legacy back on track and ensure that families are not priced out of the Olympic Park.”

ENDS

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Law Commission visit Manchester as part of hate crime review

  • Evidence Consultation organised by Greater Manchester Citizens was held today, Wednesday 11 September 2019, as part of a review into hate crime law by the independent Law Commission, which advises Government on areas of the law that need reform.

  • The visit took place on Wednesday 11th September at the British Muslim Heritage Centre and the commissioners heard from over 40 members of the community, who spoke directly to the Commission about their experiences of misogyny, Islamophobia and intersectional hate crime.

  • Community organising group Greater Manchester Citizens - which includes members from Mosques, Churches and Synagogues, the University of Manchester, Levenshulme School from Girls as well as other civil society groups - has been campaigning for stronger Hate Crime laws for the past two years and successfully bid for the consultation to be held in Manchester. 

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We can't afford to sit this out

Blog by Taj Khan, Newcastle Central Mosque, Tyne and Wear Citizens

With a new Prime Minister in post and the prorogation of Parliament, another General Election is likely to be on the horizon. A lot is at stake and communities like mine can't afford to sit this out.

However we may each personally feel about the current political situation, we have to take every opportunity we can get to fight for a better, fairer society.

See, for a long time I was angry about injustice and I took part in countless demonstrations but... nothing ever seemed to change and I began losing hope that people like you and me could be heard.

It's not an exaggeration to say that all of this changed when my local mosque in Newcastle joined Citizens UK's alliance in Tyne and Wear. Being trained in community organising meant that I could see a way forward.

Since then, in the space of less than 2 years we've secured real change in Newcastle. We launched a Hate Crime Charter that was adopted by not one, but four, public transport companies that have now, as a result, improved how staff respond to hate crime incidents. 

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Security and control: the need for Living Hours

Blog by Lizzie Flew, Child Poverty Action Group, a member of Hackney Citizens

We know that child poverty in working families is rising even as employment is at a record high. Indeed 70% of children living in poverty are in working families. It’s right to celebrate high levels of employment, but it’s not right if that employment comes with high levels of insecurity and unpredictability – as it often does for those on a low income. Some parents are having to worry about whether they’ll get enough hours next week, or to deal with the fallout when they have juggled their childcare to make it work and then their shift gets cancelled at the last minute. These situations cause financial hardship and unnecessary distress. The Living Hours campaign from the Living Wage Foundation is a vital step forward in tackling this.

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Law Commission visit Newcastle as part of Hate Crime Review

  • Evidence Consultation held in Newcastle this week as part of review into hate crime law.

  • Visit will take place at Newcastle University between 10-2pm and the commissioners will hear from over 40 women who will speak directly to the Commission to feed in their experiences of misogyny, islamophobia and intersectional hate crime.

  • Community organising group - which includes groups from Newcastle Central Mosque, West End Women and Girls and Newcastle University - has been campaigning for stronger Hate Crime laws, successfully bid for the hearing to be held in the North East.

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