The first Tyne & Wear Citizens Assembly was held at the Miners Institute, Newcastle Upon Tyne on Tuesday 8th December 2015.
Tyne & Wear Citizens is part of Citizens UK who organises communities to act together for power, social justice and the common Good. Their work is based on the principle that when people work together they have the power to change their neighbourhood, their cities, and ultimately the country for the better.
The Right Revd Paul Butler, Bishop of Durham speaking about the importance of civil society in an address to the assembly said: “My experience of Nottingham Citizens has convinced me of the importance, value and significance of civil society, through educational establishments, trade unions, faith communities and others, cooperating together for the wellbeing of our whole society.
“As we move into a new phase of local governance with 7 authorities working together and an elected mayor Citizens offers a key way for the voice of ordinary people gathering together around issues that matter locally to encourage local power to work for our common good.
“Tyne and Wear Citizens will bring people from all walks of life together. Help them learn to organise as communities. Enable them to speak up to those who hold decision making powers to account for making lives better for all.”
The Revd Sheila Bamber, Canon Provost of Sunderland Minster and the diocesan coordinator for the project said: “We believe that the creation of a Tyne and Wear Citizens presents an opportunity for the Diocese of Durham to work in partnership with the Diocese of Newcastle, The Roman Catholic Diocese of Hexham and Newcastle, The Newcastle Quaker Meeting other civil society institutions and faith groups.
“It will empower and equip the local church to engage with its community and bring about real change, reflecting the Church’s responsibility ‘to do justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with our God’.”
The Diocese of Durham as founding partner has pledged £20,000 to the project over a two year period to contribute the £60,000 per year needed to staff and run the project and build the Citizens UK network in Tyne & wear.
The Diocese of Durham’s Andrew Thurston, Diocesan Secretary said: “Over the past year, the Diocese has agreed a vision to “Bless our Communities in Jesus’ name for the Transformation of us all”, and one of our priorities to help us get there is to work with other partners in our local communities to address the issues caused by poverty in all its forms.
We believe that being a founding partner of Tyne and Wear Citizens will give us a real opportunity to work alongside other partners, including faith groups, to engage with our communities for the common good in order to bring about real change. We look forward to working with you to deliver our common aims.”
Image Credit: Keith Blundy
This article was first posted here.