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Newsletter, July 2019
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diverse communities taking action together for a thriving, more inclusive and fairer MK

PREPARE FOR ACTION

AGM & Launch of listening campaigns 2019-20

This year's AGM will be held on Tuesday 17th September at MK Academy.  All members are invited to join.
  • 5.00pm - Participants in past year's Two-Day Training courses (28-29th Sept 2018 and 22-23rd March 2019) give short presentations of their community organising experiences and receive graduation certificates
  • 6.30pm - Annual General Meeting including appointment of Leadership Group 2019-20
  • 7.15pm - Launch of listening campaigns within member institutions (focused on Fair Work, Refugees Welcome, Hate Crime & Policing) with training.
  • 8.00pm - End.
All members are invited.  If you would like to attend, contact your Organiser, Tom Bulman, tel 07962 838685.
    
See story of last AGM.

Local Action Against Hate - MK Council, 18th Sept

For the past two years Citizens:mk has been running a campaign against hate. In its presentation at the Accountability Assembly the campaign leaders asked delegates for their ideas to answer the question: “How can we reduce hatred and build a more caring and friendly community in Milton Keynes?” We received about 100 ideas collected by text message which we have since categorised into 13 themes. You can see these ideas by visiting www.orglis.net, entering the password 'LVMK' and navigating to the Report page. You can do this on your mobile phone.

At the assembly we received a commitment from the Leader of the Council (pictured) to disseminate these ideas to Council members and to discuss them at a Full Council meeting. Cllr Marland has since reaffirmed this and we understand the issue is to be discussed at the next Council meeting on 18th September.

We want to get as much support around this issue as we can, it affects all of us, and having it discussed in the Council Chamber is a good opportunity to buld power for change.

Citizens:mk members and supporters can help in a number of ways:
  • Please visit the website and read the ideas, but even better score the ideas or add comments to them - instructions and guidance are available on the site;
  • Send us testimonies of your experience of hate, or positive experiences of loving kindness in both cases explaining the effect on you and others;
  • Attend the Council meeting, which is open to the public, at 7.30pm on 18th September at Civic Offices in Central Milton Keynes.
If you would like to be further involved please come along to an action team meeting for the campaign which will be held on 22nd August at 6.15pm at the Church of Christ the Cornerstone. For further information please email Fidele Mutwarisibo.

New One-Day Training

Our next Citizens:mk leadership training will be a new one-day course on 23rd September.  This is for anybody who sees a social injustice and wants to make change in their community.  The course will cover the general concepts of Community Organising (power and self-interest) and tools (power map, 121, stick person) with a particular emphasis on action for our current campaigns (Fair Work, Refugees Welcome, Hate Crime & Policing).  Book your place nowSee story of last training.

National Action Against Hate - Westminster, 15th Oct

Letter from Citizens UK's Executive Director, Matthew Bolton

Dear all,
 
I’m writing to all Chapter Leadership Groups, Trustees and Staff with an update from Citizens UK.
 
Last week, new Prime Minister Boris Johnson confirmed his public backing of two major Citizens UK campaigns: the Living Wage and Strangers into Citizens. It was thanks to the turnout of 2,000 of our members to the London Citizens Assembly back in 2008 that he was first persuaded to support these social justice priorities and now we as Citizens UK have an opportunity to organise and turn these words turn into action.  See blog.
 
Before you shift into August holiday mode completely, I wanted to make sure you are aware of two autumn activities we are working towards.
 
Citizens UK Delegates Assembly and public action with new Government -Tuesday 15th October, Westminster
We have a Citizens UK Delegates’ Assembly and National Action scheduled for October 15th 2019 from 12pm to 6pm. This is at a significant point in the political calendar; shortly before the current date scheduled for Brexit, around the time of the Government’s spending review and landing during Hate Crime Awareness week. The internal action will be a chance for training, relationship building and strategy, followed by a public action on Parliament Square to build a relationship with the new Government. We are keen for as many members as possible to participate in this so please save the date and more details will follow soon!
 
Citizens inquiry and research into hate – from now until Autumn
Last year we led the national news agenda with a call for misogyny to be classed as a hate crime – and we stood with Muslim and Jewish friends who were targets for hate. With far-right extremism on the rise and harassment of women both clear and present dangers, this work remains crucial and we are building on our success in getting a review of hate crime legislation by creating one of the largest studies ever conducted on experiences of hate crime, led by Dr Farhan Samanani, who is working with us 2 days a week on secondment from Max Planck Institution in Berlin to deliver this work. A number of chapters including Cardiff, Manchester, Birmingham, Tyne and Wear and TELCO/London Citizens are planning Law Commission hearings. We are happy to support members with materials and advice to hold listening exercises with people affected – and everyone is encouraged to fill in the survey we are gathering here: http://bit.ly/CUKhatecrimesurvey
 
Recent successes
 
Training
We had an excellent National Community Leadership Training in Birmingham last week and I hope those that attended felt energised and ready to get stuck into community organising work in their chapters. We have 3-day Regional Community Leadership Training coming up 24th-26th September in London.  This is a non-residential training but let your organiser know if you have leaders who want to attend.  Remember, full dates of National and Regional training are on our website: https://www.citizensuk.org/our_training.  The next 3-day Regional Training is in Leeds in March 2020 and is residential.
 
A win as refugee resettlement extended and Community Sponsorship now additional
We had big news to celebrate on the first day of Refugee Week. Immigration Minister Caroline Nokes finally announced that the UK's flagship refugee scheme, which includes both Council-led resettlement (VPRS) and Community Sponsorship, is being extended. Leaders and refugee families meet Caroline Nokes at a private visit to a South London Citizens member church All Saints West Dulwich. Years of hard work settling refugees in communities up and down the country led up to this moment. Now our Community Sponsorship foundation can continue to help groups settle refugees and 5,000 more places have been pledged for 2020 as part of a revamped resettlement schemes that importantly also ensures any families settled under community sponsorship are counted as additional to the Government’s own numbers. Citizens UK also used refugee week to celebrate the work of cities involved in the scheme, with Leeds and Birmingham amongst cities gaining recognition for their work.
 
Living Hours
Living Hours, our new standard to tackle insecure work, was launched by the Living Wage Foundation in June. It aims to build on the huge success of our work on low wages by tackling the problem many workers face with a lack of guaranteed hours and short notice given for shift cancellations. You can read the blog from Gayle, a leader with Newcastle Citizens Advice and Tyne and Wear Citizens about their involvement in the work. I wanted particularly to raise up the work of Milton Keynes, Nottingham, Tyne and Wear and London Citizens who helped gather the 600 conversations during a listening exercise within our institutions. These were vital to informing the Living Wage Foundation’s work and I know several chapters are now taking forward local campaigns on other elements of workplace injustice that came up during the exercise. You can read some of the coverage highlights here:
  • Mirror Online, Campaign aims to curb zero-hours contracts , slash low pay and boost Living Wage
  • BBC News Online, Firms Face pressure to improve zero-hours contracts
  • The Independent, ‘Can new Living Hours Campaign kick zero hours contracts into touch?’
  • Financial Times,  ‘5 million people in low paid insecure work’
Please be in touch with your Organiser or me directly with any ideas or questions.
 
Yours, Matthew
 
Matthew Bolton, Executive Director
If you would like to join the action at Westminster on Tuesday 15th October, for which free travel will be provided,
contact your Organiser Tom Bulman, tel 07962 838685. 
You can attend the action and the National Delegates Assembly (from 12pm) or just the action (5.30-6.30pm).

School Pupils Training, 1st Oct

Adult leaders and supporters are invited to join part of the One-Day Training for School Pupil Councillors on 1st October, 1.15-2.45pm, at Church of Christ the Cornerstone.  Your role will be to introduce yourself briefly, then listen to the pupils' ideas for campaign action to tackle waste in the city centre.  They will have spent the morning researching the issues in and around the shopping centre.  Adult leaders from different member institutions will be asked to comment on the pupils' campaign ideas and give formal approval on behalf of other members.  (Click here for story of last year's School Pupils' Training Day.)  If you are interested to participate, please contact Organiser Tom Bulman, tel 07962 838685.

Fair Work Action, 12th Nov

The Fair Work campaign team is planning a Fair Work Breakfast Summit with business and political leaders in Milton Keynes on Tuesday 12th November.  If you would like to attend, please contact Hala Afify.

Refugees Welcome action, 19th Nov

The Refugees Welcome campaign team is planning an action on themornign of Tuesday 19th November.  The aims are:
  1. increase the number of accredited Refugees Welcome schools in MK
  2. the number of communities pledging to sponsor a refugee family to live in their community (Sponsor Refugees).
If you would like to attend, add yourself to the power of the action, please see your institutional leader or contact your Organiser, Tom Bulman, tel 07962 838685.

The Refugees Welcome campaign team is planning an action on the morning of Tuesday19th November.  The aims are:

Weaving Trust Over Brexit

In the run-up to the European elections, Citizens:mk organised a carousel of short one-to-one conversations between people who voted opposite in the EU Referendum of 2016.  The event at Cornerstone Church was attended by representatives of Cornerstone, MK Muslim Association, MK Peace & Justice Network and three political parties, including Cllr Alex Walker, Leader of MK Conservative Party.

“It is so easy to live in an echo chamber and not challenge our views,” said Cllr Walker. “We all have a responsibility to challenge our positions on Brexit, otherwise there will never be a consensus or a way forward.”

“We wanted to listen to each other,” said Fidele Mutwarisibo, Leader of Citizens:mk’s Fight Against Hate campaign, “and build relationships at a time of division and conflict.”

“It was useful to be able to hear from Leave voters because there are so many different views,” said Hilarie Bowman of MK Green Alliance. “and the press and TV are rather stereotypical.”

“As a Leave voter, it has been so important for me to have a safe space to debate opinions, challenge existing stereotypes and understand how we have similar views as well as different ones,” said Jennifer Parsons of MK Muslim Association. “Deep questions here have left me thinking more about the issues, motivating me to compromise and work toward our future.”

“Leave/Remain is closer to Labour/Tory than I had thought,” said Malcolm Harper.

Weaving Trust for action on climate change, 14th Sept

Outgoing leader of Transition MK and founder of MK Green Alliance, Hilarie Bowman (pictured), writes:

Climate Change is bringing more weather extremes year on year.  The next 11 years are crucial. We must start actually cutting carbon now.  MK Council declared a Climate Emergency in January of this year.

What will that mean for us? What actions and policies are they going to propose?  What should we be doing individually?

We'd like to get to know you, introduce ourselves and exchange concerns and ideas in these areas.  Then let's work together to craft winnable campaigns for the coming year.

Come to our Weaving Trust event at MK Christian Foundation, Wolverton, MK12 5HX, 3-5pm on Saturday 14th September.

Click here for the origin and usual format of a weaving trust event.  
Click here to sign up today. We'd love to meet you!

ARGUMENT FOR COMMUNITY ORGANISING

To make change, we need power. 
We develop relational power by sharing self-interest through 121 meetings with followers, peer leaders and power holders. 
We develop leaders and build a broad-based alliance, ready to make change through a process of research, action and evaluation.
We celebrate our campaign wins and keep our broad-based alliance fighting fit for future campaigns.


To find out more, contact our Community Organiser, tel 07962 838685.
Members

Church of Christ the Cornerstone
Congolese Community
Green Alliance
Jubilee Wood Primary School
MK Academy
MK Council of Faiths
MK Deanery
MK Muslim Association
MK Quaker Meeting
Open University
Q:alliance
Southwood Primary School
St. Augustine’s RC Church
St. Frideswide’s Church
St. Monica’s Catholic Primary School
St. Paul’s Catholic School
Stantonbury Ecumenical Partnership
Truby’s Garden Tea Room

 
Citizens:mk is a chapter of Citizens UK,
funded by membership dues and small grants from MK Community Foundation
Click here for Calendar of Citizens:mk events
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