Revd Simon Woodman of Bloomsbury Baptist Church shares some reflections about why his institution and others are coming together to rebuild Westminster Citizens - and what their hopes for the future are.
The context for community organising in Westminster and the West End of London is unusual - many of institutions that might come into membership are attended by people who live most of their lives outside Westminster, people who come into the West End for worship, play, or work from elsewhere in London. Yet it is also an area with the potential for organising to have an effect far beyond just the local - with the headquarters of many national organisations, including government itself, literally on our doorstep.
Westminster Citizens, as I write, is little more than an idea and a handful of people committed to bringing it into being - but we are all excited by the possibilities it offers. Together with other institutions, we have put together an ambitious plan of recruiting more institutions and raising a sufficient amount of 'hard money' via membership dues. Once we have re-built a diverse, broad-based alliance in Westminster, we will begin the organising cycle by engaging in listening campaigns with the people that our institutions serve.
From my own perspective, membership of Citizens has already impacted positively the way in which we are 'organising' within our institution, and has borne some fruit in terms of collaborative actions with others across London, but what really excites me is the potential for impacting within the area that my church was created to serve. It is too early to know what our membership will want to campaign on, but it is bound to be something from the bottom up that speaks to the interests and experiences of people in Westminster.
If you are from a civil society institution in Westminster and would like to find out more about getting involved, please don't hesitate to get in touch with firstname.lastname@example.org