Nottingham Citizens provide a bumper edition of updates including a statement from our leadership team in response to COVID-19, sign-posting of local support and resources, training info, plus important updates on campaigns both local and national.
Dear Citizens of Nottingham,
At this scary and unsettling time, we hope you are inspired by the messages of hope and practical action.
Nottingham Citizens Leadership Group statement on COVID-19
The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the deep injustices in our society.
At Nottingham Citizens we organise communities to act together for power, social justice and the common good. We develop the leadership capacity of our members so they can hold politicians and other decision-makers to account on the issues that matter to them.
Now is the time for our communities to come together. Our member institutions have been active in responding to the need we see in our communities in a number of different ways.
We continue to campaign for a Real Living Wage for care workers and are listening to the stories of nurses and carers who have been subject to insecure work conditions, low pay and fears about living on Statutory Sick Pay if they become ill.
With national Citizens UK colleagues, we are pushing for improvements to the system supporting families eligible for free school meals and raising the experiences of young people without digital access who are unable to connect or learn. We are working with local schools to support parents in accessing food banks so these children continue to receive nutritious meals even though they are not in school.
Led by member organisation Muslim Hands, we have been using our networks to bring together the voluntary and public sectors to better co-ordinate the city’s response to the crisis. As an alliance of organisations built on relationships, we saw the importance of these connections in mobilising the response to this crisis at speed and with compassion.
And we continue to develop mental health training for local organisations and are exploring a new forum for bringing together parents of young people with mental health needs for support and guidance.
If you have stories you would like to share then we would like to hear them. And if you care about your community and want to become part of an active alliance of people working for the common good then there is no better time than now. Please contact our full-time organiser to get involved.
Nottingham Citizens Leadership Group, April 2020
Into a situation of fear and uncertainty, the words of the historian and activist Rebecca Solnit are timely;
There is much to be hopeful about. We've heard many stories of community action, of selfless generosity, and of brand new relationships birthed out of the crisis itself. I love this story from Heidi which speaks about her street coming together and gives us tips for how we can do the same in our own neighbourhood. This reflects the advice from local government - to be looking out for neighbours and to be contributing to, and benefiting from the coordinated support package being communicated. Here's a few reminders and resources;
- For those in Nottingham City in need of support and unable to access this through neighbours, call the Golden Number on 0115 915 5555
- Donate to the Robin Hood Fund here, So far over £45'000 has been donated to support the most vulnerable in the city.
- It's great to join in clapping our NHS and key workers on Thursday's at 8pm. Why not answer the urgent call and become a care worker yourself? No experience is needed, simply a desire to look after others. You'll be provided with full PPE and pay is above the Real Living Wage. So far almost 400 have answered the call, but Cllr Mellen informed us recently that more are needed. Click here to apply.
- NCVS are highlighting urgent appeals from across the voluntary sector, including from Citizens members Emmanuel House and Himmah - click here to see how you can help.
Thanks to those who have sent in resources they are finding helpful at this time - here's a few to share in your networks;
- Tips for looking after your mental health. Source - NHS England
- Supporting good mental health, a faith perspective. Source - Church of England.
- Looking after your family's mental health Source - Parent Zone.
- Staying at home tips. Source - Nottingham City Council
- Psychological Well-being for Healthcare Workers. Source - University of Nottingham
- Adult Education Online Programme - free online learning provided by the University of Nottingham. Events began this week and run into July.
Community organising teaches us that we can both clap our key workers, but at the same time be angry about the unjust systems that have led to the marginalisation and ill-treatment of the very people keeping our country running right now. COVID-19 is not apolitical, and so we are alive and animated with political questions and challenge. Here are some updates on campaigns local and national. We may be socially distancing, but we're busier than ever.
Work and Wages
Nationally, Citizens UK members participated in a quick-fire listening campaign in the first 2 weeks of lock-down to understand the pressures being felt by people. Unsurprisingly, the impact on workers was towards the top of the list. We embarked in a further piece of listening to dig deeper. The top three issues were 1. Zero hours insecurity and sudden disappearance of paid work 2. Key workers on less than Real Living Wage and concerns about their safety. 3. Self-employed/freelancers and lack of timely govt. support
Our local action team continues to listen to workers and will be sharing stories via our social media channels in the coming weeks.
We continue planning towards the Good Work Round-table we are co-convening with Cllr Mellen, likely to now take place in the autumn. At a national level, Nottingham members are joining others from across Citizens UK chapters to form a National Action Team, calling on the government to properly recognise the vital role care workers play by paying them a Real Living Wage. There has never been enough money in the social care system, or enough political will to invest in it. But now we have an opportunity to win and we must not let this crisis go to waste. Ultimately, the UK government and devolved administrations need to make sure more money flows into the social care system.
If you're interested in participating in the local or national work, let us know. You can also play a role by sharing stories - if your work has been affected by the current crisis and you'd be willing to share your story please contact us. The next local Work and Wages action team is on Wednesday 6th May, 5-6.30pm (Zoom).
Young People & Education
Just before lock-down slowed down all our work, team members Jen Mustapha, Marvin Gyeke and Charlotte Allen negotiated a pilot project with Nottingham City Transport for a group of families to have free travel during the summer break to access events and activities in the city. They have linked with Challenge, an umbrella organisation in the city facilitating access of ‘more and different’ children to the arts to enable talent and aspiration. We will continue to keep this on the agenda ready for when it can take place. We are currently sharing young people’s experiences of the digital divide and access to food for families eligible to free school meals, working with national colleagues on these issues. Next team meeting is on Tuesday 2nd June, 3 pm (Zoom)
Our work with Nottinghamshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust to co-produce a new session to tackle stigma and discrimination has continued online. We hope to conclude this work in the next month and host the initial 'train the trainer' days in the autumn, all being well. In the meantime, member institutions are encouraged to continue to gather names of 2 or 3 who will be trained to deliver this short, 90-minute awareness-level session back in their organisation.
Our strategy around young people and mental health has continued in recent online team meetings. As part of this work we are exploring the potential to bring together parents who find themselves in a time of crisis trying to support their children but feeling ill-equipped to know what to do. If this is you, or you know of people in your networks in this situation we'd love to connect with them. Our next team meeting is on Tuesday 12th May, 5-6.30pm (Zoom).
Having postponed next month's 2-day training due to COVID-19 we are instead delivering six online training sessions on a range of topics related to community organising. Info and registration via the links below. All sessions are available at no cost to members, and are also open to non-members interested in their organisation joining our alliance.
Friday 15th May
9.30am: #1- Nottingham Citizens: Then, Now, Next?
2pm: #2 - What is community organising?
Weekly online training is also being organised at a national level for Citizens UK members, every Thursday at 4pm. Check out: https://www.citizensuk.org/covid19-webinars to register for upcoming sessions.
Other good things occurring
- Mental Health recovery: People at the Institute of Mental Health have collected hundreds of recovery stories told by people who have lived with mental health problems. Now they want to see whether other people find it helpful to hear these stories of recovery. Click here to find out more and participate.
- Student Housing Co-op: The Nottingham Student Housing Co-op was founded in 2015 with the aim of addressing the broken student housing market. High rents and poor quality housing have exploited students, making them mentally and physically ill. Students until now have been powerless to change the situation, but this is where democratically run Student Housing Co-operatives come in. Scott Jennings is leading on some great work to connect communities, and to improve the living situations for Nottingham's student residents. Find out more here or contact Scott directly at firstname.lastname@example.org
That's all for now. Any questions or ideas we'd love to hear from you. If you're angry about the state of the world but not sure where to start, drop us a message!
- Pete Rogers // 07376009949 // email@example.com (Full-time)
- Heidi Shewell-Cooper // 07376013644 // firstname.lastname@example.org (Mon-Tues)