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Sponsor Refugee award winners recognised for welcoming refugees

The first Community Sponsorship of refugees awards last week recognised the quiet British heroes who have responded to the refugee crisis, welcoming Syrian families into their communities. Awards will be given for a diverse range of community champions who have helped refugees settle via the Home Office approved Community Sponsorship scheme in villages, towns and cities across the UK, finding them housing, helping them access services, schools and employment and through other acts of kindness.

Read on for the full list of winners.

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Children perform poems on British citizenship at the Home Office

On National Poetry Day, 4th October, over 140 children from schools part of London Citizens came together outside the Home Office to perform poems about their experiences of struggling to become British citizens and hand an anthology of their work to Immigration Minister Caroline Nokes MP.

These young people were either born or raised in the UK and are directly affected by the £1012 Home Office child citizenship fee. Though they may feel as British as their peers, they are often blocked from becoming citizens due to the prohibitive costs involved. Even when their families can save enough to pay the fee, their parents are often forced into risky and expensive debt. 

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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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Mental Health training for Merton

It's World Mental Health Day on 10th October and Merton Citizens are encouraging members t o promote this within their organisations, either during worship, school assemblies or team meetings. This can be done at any point during the month of October. We are doing this to raise awareness of the issues around mental health and to lessen the stigma which is often attached to it.

Merton Citizens are encouraging members to appoint someone in their community to become a mental health champion. This means: 

  • Signing up to do training in how to signpost people, how to have helpful conversations with people struggling with mental health issues, and how to help reduce the stigma surrounding mental health. 
  • Being a point person in your community who can direct people to the right services.
  • Being proactive in finding things your community can do to promote positive mental health.  This could be hosting a yoga course, encouraging people to use the headspace app , starting a weekly football team etc…

Listen to why Catherine at Mitcham Parish Church is becoming a mental health champion. Click here 



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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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Refugees Welcome installation for Brixton Design Trail

How best to engage a whole community in welcoming refugees? Invite them to help create something to which everyone can contribute. From 15-23 September, Refugees Welcome Lambeth and the residents of Trinity Gardens have welcomed people for this years Brixton Design Trail, with a hand-made installation in Trinity Gardens, SW9 that celebrates our diversity and the journeys that have brought us here.

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What does fair work look like? The start of a new local campaign.

Read this blog to find out why we're launching a listening campaign on 'fair work' and how you can join to share your experiences of poor conditions at work. 

Blog by Gayle Purves, Citizens leader from Citizens Advice Newcastle

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Upcoming actions: October-December 2018

Leaders from across our Chapter have been working hard to plan an exciting range of actions to build our power around our priority issues. Click here to learn more about what's coming next and be sure to make a note of these dates and times in your diaries!

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Launch of Camden and Islington Citizens Commission on Youth Violence

Blog by Hugh Murdoch, North London Citizens Organiser

This morning I was pleased to hear London Mayor Sadiq Khan announce plans for a violence reduction unit to tackle the endemic rise of youth crime in London. The unit, which will treat youth violence as a public health issue, will be based on a model in Glasgow which had significant success.

However, this morning’s announcement came alongside news of yet another fatal stabbing on our streets. A young man in his 20s was killed on Tuesday night by Tufnell Park, on the border between of Camden and Islington.

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New Harrow Citizens alliance wins change and prepares to expand

Harrow Citizens is the newest Borough alliance of Citizens UK in North London. It launched in May 2017 with the aim of bringing different civic society organisations together to organise and act for the common good. In just over the year, Harrow Citizens has already made great strides and is keen to keep growing in both strength and numbers. Continue reading to find out more about Harrow Citizens' achievements and their next steps.

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