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A reflection on Citizens UK national community organising training

Rev Carole Challis, Vale of Glamorgan Methodist Circuit


This was the word shared by a young boy as his feeling in the first rounds of evaluation after a Citizens UK action in Lewisham in south London. This was an action to present a card to the Met Police Commissioner Cressida Dick to ask her to vote in favour of misogyny being recorded as a hate crime. The action was timed to precede the meeting of the National Police Chiefs' Council the following week.

In the second round the organiser asked him to say more. His response: “ I am not a girl, but if these girls feel more free I feel more free. Like a weight is lifted off my shoulders”.

These powerful empathic words gave hope to all of us on the six-day training in Basingstoke who had gone to observe the action.

This simple action, not the best planned and effected, but definitely meaningful to those involved, gave us an insight into how the use of organising tools we have been exploring can be used to bring about change.

During the week, we explored power as “the ability to make change”, when to compromise, how to take small effective actions, and winning a small step rather than trying to change everything at once.

We used role play, one to one meetings, storytelling, developed strategies and learnt key concepts for our organising such as “Action is to organising as oxygen is to our bodies”, highlighting the importance of public action to bring about change on injustice issues becoming a habit for our organising as institutions.

We built relationships across a wide diverse group from across the country and grown in knowledge and understanding. We managed to squeeze the football into the busy schedule and saw England win on penalties... a tense time!

This was an enjoyable and affirming time of learning for me.

I will close with the poem written by Sophie Smith aged 15. Inspired by Martin Luther King and read to the police superintendent and gathered people at the action in Lewisham on July 4th.

“ I have a dream that one day no female will feel unsafe because of their gender.

I have a dream my daughters and my sisters can wear what they want without being objectified.

 I have a dream we will live in a community where sexual assault is a scary story of the past.

          I have a dream where my female friends are not always at a disadvantage.

                    I have a dream I will one day not be scared to walk alone.”

Sophie has a dream and she is working towards making it a reality. What are our dreams in Citizens Cymru Wales? How can we work together in the power of our unity within diversity to build the world as it should be?

The Citizens UK National Community Leadership Training is designed to help people to change the world (or at least your own local community) while strengthening their own community group in the process. People from dues-paying membership of Citizens Cymru Wales are nominated for the national training – it is one of the big perks of membership! The training includes six days of intensive residential training, followed by support to people to put the tools learned into practice in their own areas. This blog from Andrew Pendleton who did the residential training last year provides a good overview of the training https://medium.com/@andrewpendleton_55747/five-fantastic-lesson-from-citizens-uks-community-organiser-training-2cd2aa44a045 . If you would like to go next time (the next dates are 7-12 October 2018 and 10-15 March 2019) then do contact your Citizens Organiser.

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