London Citizens

Report by Ben Pollard

What is London Citizens?

Many of you will know already, but for those who don’t here is a summary; London Citizens is a grassroots charity working with local people for local people. Founded in 1996 and representing over a quarter of a million Londoners, we are the UK’s largest and most diverse community organisation – a broad-based alliance of over 200 schools, universities, faith and community groups who work together for social, economic and environmental justice. We meet this goal by training people of all ages, faiths and backgrounds to take action together for change, developing local and national campaigns on the issues our members put forward as important to them.
We build relationships between our member institutions, and bring diverse, grassroots
community leaders together to share experience and find the common good. By working
together, combining resources and power through the art of community organising, our
members learn the art of public action and ensure the accountability of politicians and
businesses to ordinary people.

Why are we having an Assembly?

Our focus is to build relationships between people and institutions who might not otherwise act together. We train leaders to listen to the concerns of their families, the pressures they may be facing, and then to act together for the common good of the whole community. In a world of tweets, blogs and Facebook ‘likes’, it is a rare and amazing site to see a room filled to bursting with people from every walk of life – it’s a rare sight to most people and a daunting opportunity to most politicians. A large diverse turnout is the key and a different kind of power is the aim. In the words of Boris Johnson, ‘London Citzens holds my feetto the fire’.

How have St Mary’s People been involved?

In the autumn a group of about 20 members of St Mary’s met for lunch after church and shared what they thought the greatest pressures where on family life locally. Meetings like this were going on in schools, churches and residents associations across the borough. Here at St Mary’s we agreed that the Care economy needs transformation and that local people need all the help they can get in accessing the amazing job opportunities coming to Wandsworth. Other groups have also focussed on Housing and Street Safety.

How can I help?

At the Assembly from 7pm on May 13th we will hear how the Care Campaign Team, led by leaders from St Mary’s and St Luke’s Battersea, have built relationships with the newest Care provider in the borough Caremark, and the largest Jewish care home in the UK at Nightingale Square in Balham. The directors of both organisations have agreed to join the Citizens UK National Care campaign. On the Monday after Mother’s Day leaders from Wandsworth Citizens met Norman Lamb MP to thank him for his support of the campaign – in the year ahead we hope to build constructive relationships with the council and NHS Care Commissioning Group as well.

To get involved please email Cynthia Newman on [email protected]
St Mary’s has also taken a real lead on the Jobs campaign by hosting meetings with members of the Surrey Lane and Greater Winstanley ‘People’s Organisations’ (groups of residents associations), to offer support with CV writing and interview skills. The SLPO won an historic victory last year by negotiating with the developer Lend Lease to ensure that the London Living Wage (announced annually by the Mayor) is paid to all it’s subcontractors. A team at St Mary’s has now been helping local residents apply for these jobs.

To help with this campaign or for any other questions please email our London Citizens Community Organiser, Ben Pollard on [email protected] or call 07765457574.