Citizens UK - Preston
Hello People of Preston!
If it was up to me I would be arranging a coffee morning and a chance to meet with you all in your communities, however, as we are all currently learning new ways to live and work due to Covid 19 I am going to rely on the variety of communication methods we have available to us, so you might be reading this on social media, in a newsletter, on a notice board…who knows, but firstly and most importantly here is a big ‘Hello’ from me!
Who is me? I am Davinia Jackson, and I have just been appointed as an Associate Community Organiser through Citizens UK to support the Preston Citizens Alliance to establish their chapter. I am very excited about the potential of this role and I am looking forward to working with local residents, community groups, faith groups, business and services to promote positive changes in Preston.
I have worked across the Fylde coast for the last 20 years in roles such and youth and community worker, Community engagement and project coordinator. On a personal level I have a variety of interests from running, to growing fruit and veg on my allotment to archaeology and local digs - I love being outdoors, and most of my hobbies usually mean I am getting muddy somewhere!
Anyway, what I am really interested in is meeting people, listening to their fabulous stories and sharing a vision of social justice and community cohesion! So, I am really looking forward to meeting with you when you feel comfortable and it is safe to do so. Please, in the meantime, drop me an email at Davinia.Jackson@citizensUK.org to introduce yourself and if you want to we could arrange to meet online so that you can tell me about your community and your hopes for Preston.
"Fratelli Tutti, Community Organising & Catholic Social Action" - Replay the Conference Video from January 25th 2021
What Citizens are involved in...
Community Organising means people working together to have the power to change their neighbourhoods, cities, and ultimately the country for the better. We do this by listening to our members, faith groups, schools and colleges, trade unions and companies, asking them about their concerns and developing strategies to improve our communities. We ensure that civil society is at the negotiating table alongside the market and state, so that our communities are included in the decisions that affect them. We develop the leadership capacity of our members so they can hold politicians and other decision-makers to account on the issues that matter to them. Community organising is democracy in action: winning victories that change lives and transform communities.
Tackling Poor Health Citizens UK has a long history of bringing communities together to affect change in the social determinants of health. Poor health in families, especially among children and the elderly, is associated with social determinants such as poverty, isolation, lack of social support, social exclusion generally and poor access to health services.
Tackling Poverty The Living Wage campaign was pioneered by Citizens UK leaders in 2001 as a way of tackling the scourge of low pay. Employers we work with have reported increases in productivity, reduced absenteeism and staff turnover alongside increased wellbeing and morale. Productivity and good pay go hand in hand.
Promoting Better Social Care North London Citizens trained volunteers to have face to face conversations with thousands of people in their communities. They heard story after story of people who were worried, frustrated and angry about poor quality care. From this work a Social Care Charter developed spelling out how to achieve standards of quality care for the recipient and dignity for the worker. For people to receive quality care, the care workers themselves need to be valued and treated well. Citizens UK is building a movement to enable recipients, care workers, providers and commissioners to work together to bring about the social care system we all want to see.
Creating Employment Opportunities Citizens UK is working to tackle two of the UK’s biggest issues: skills shortages and social mobility. Through the ‘Good Jobs Campaign’ and our unique connections with hundreds of schools, colleges, faith and cultural institutions we match diverse and talented young people with employers in engineering, creative industries, technology, digital media and health, who urgently need their skills.
Decent Affordable Housing Croydon Citizens persuaded Croydon Council to commit to building community land trust homes in the borough. CLTs are a new way to provide permanently and genuinely affordable housing. Instead of being sold at the market rate, homes are priced according to what is affordable on average incomes in the local area. If the homes are sold on, they are sold at the same formula meaning that the homes are permanently affordable.
Examples of other Campaigns Leeds Citizens are promoting ethical financial services by signing people up to credit unions; working with bus companies to improve reliability and frequency of specific bus routes; developing a pilot for providing culturally sensitive care for elderly people in Leeds; creating a ‘navigators’ service for people accessing mental health services.
What makes Citizens UK different from any other campaigning or lobbying organisation is that the political action we do is driven at every level by leaders in the institutions in our membership. From local training and listening campaigns to negotiating with Cabinet ministers and planning national actions, at the heart of all we do are people like you. Our responsibility is to build your capacity to work together for the common good – yours is to claim that power and use it.
Citizens UK is made up of a network of local alliances. A viewing of the Citizens UK website will show posts of different alliances around the country.
In January 2016 Neil Jameson and Paul Regan of Citizens UK came to UCLan. Since then a Preston based interim steering group has been working to increase contacts and invite organisations to join a local alliance.
Local alliances are made up of dues-paying member institutions representing faith institutions, universities, colleges, schools, trade unions, and community groups. Across the network there are over 300 civil society institutions in membership, all committed to working together for the common good.
The dues from member institutions are needed to support a trained community organiser who can help mould the alliance and help it to grow in strength and purpose. Training courses in community organising (of 6 days and 3 days) are regularly offered at different locations and different times of the year. Such training, when offered to institution leaders and persons delegated from their institutions, provides the alliance with a growing knowledge and experience base, which is in turn strengthened greatly by an employed community organiser.
What is community organising?
Fr Randall and other faith & community leaders who signed the Citizens Pledge
Preston Citizens and Catholic participation: A timeline
Tom Chigbo of Leeds Citizens organises a zoom event on Pope Francis’ Fratelli Tutti and Let us Dream. Archbishop Malcolm McMahon and Austen Ivereigh give input. Catholic teachers give testimonies about their schools work for the common good, and how Citizens UK has helped them to engage in action as institutions.
Davinia Jackson and Stefan Baskerville work on encouraging the Catholic institutions already in contact with each other through Preston Citizens, and establishing new relationships with Catholic bodies.
February - March
Davinia has zoom 1-2-1s with:
Terry Mattison and members of Youth Impact
Damien Callagher (Head) & Robert Day (Head of Skills) at Christ the King High School.
Anne Russell & chaplaincy group of Cardinal Newman College.
Canon Adrian Towers invited Davinia to speak at the Deanery Meeting in October.
22nd Feb. 1 Day Training, Preston
Hallie Brady and Lois Turley of Youth Impact join the training. 24 participants in all.
Bishop Paul Swarbrick met with Davinia Jackson, Stefan Baskerville (Citizens UK), Mark Wiggin (CARITAS) and Fr Peter Randall at St Wilfrid's. This gave an opportunity for Bishop Paul to be briefed re developments of Preston Citizens, and explore the benefits of community organising for the parish communities, and for their outreach.
During the first half of this year, Methodist seed funding and extra financial support from Citizens UK meant sufficient funds were available for a part-time community organiser.
Chris Murray attends 3 day Citizens Training.
Fr Paddy Duffy (Xaverian) becomes a member of the sponsoring group, previously called the strategic group.
Interviews are held with a few to employ a part-time community organiser. Davinia Jackson is appointed.
Davinia Jackson takes up her post.
Zoom event: Preston Citizens Taking Action for Change.
50 attendees. Three Catholic attendees from the Sponsoring Committee, as well as Terry Matinson of Impact Youth.
Chris Murray gives input on the reasons for Catholic commitment to Citizens UK, and St Wilfrid’s support of Preston Citizens.
At this stage the “strategic group” supporting Hugh Murdoch consisted of Carolina de Almeida (UCLan), Rev Michael Everett (C of E), Peter Lumsden & Mark Slaney & Denise Johnson (Methodists), Andy Pratt (C of E), and Fr Randall.
On 5th March at St Stephens this group was joined by 7 invited participants in a one-off wider meeting to prepare for a Pre-founding Assembly in June. Of those 7, five were from Catholic institutions: Philip Bannister (Cottam), Clare & Peter Cobb (St Gregory’s), Geoff Thompson & Frs Randall and Michael Ashworth (St Wilfrid’s).
Carina Crawford Rolt replaced Hugh Murdoch, and the preparation for the Pre-founding Assembly continued. Peter Lumsden takes a lead role in helping Carina to connect with the strategic group. The 3 key issues for the future of Preston Citizens were:
finding new membership organisations with a diversity typical of Preston
securing funding through seed funding, and membership dues in the longer term
employment of a community organiser.
Without the above the prospects seemed unlikely for fruitful campaigns and actions based on broad based listening campaigns. The Citizens UK caption of “organised people and organised money” had to be realised to take the next steps.
St Wilfrid’s sends £10,000 to Citizens UK as funding for the employment of a community organiser.
A Pre-founding Assembly was hosted at UCLan, with 60 people attending from 25 different organisations. Of the attendees, 12 were from the Catholic institutions of the Xaverians, St Andrew and Blessed George Haydock, and St Wilfrid’s. Mark Wiggin of CARITAS Salford spoke to the Assembly, giving brief points on why the Diocese of Salford was supporting Preston Citizens. He including aspects of Catholic Social Teaching, and the effectiveness of Citizens UK in working for the common good. The emergence of Preston Citizens would create new opportunities for Catholic parishioners, parishes, and schools from Salford Diocese to widen their collaborations in community organising.
Concerns most highlighted in the Assembly overall were:
Isolation and care for the elderly
Community cohesion and celebrating diversity
Provision for young people.
The strategic group of Preston Citizens was joined by Rev Jane Wild & Denise Johnson (Methodists) and Julie Ridley (School of Social Work, Care & Community, UCLan).
Phil Callaghan joins the work of the Xaverians, dedicating some of his time to Preston Citizens Development. Phil had already completed Citizens 6 day training.
Job description and person spec for an employed community organiser is prepared.
One day training led by Paul Amuzie of Citizens UK. Jim and Sue Cullen from St Wilfrid’s attend.
Seed funding from the Anglicans is delayed indefinitely.
Methodists continue to explore avenues of funding from their own resources.
Chris Murray chairs a hustings meeting at St Wilfrid’s, with Preston Citizens in a supporting role.
A summit of the main stakeholders is hosted by the newly arrived Xaverians in their Centre. Mark Wiggin represented CARITAS of Salford Diocese.
Hugh Murdoch assisted Preston Citizens in organising a one-day training at UCLan, attended largely by students. Shirley Russo attended, as a member of St Wilfrid’s, and an employee of UCLan.
Peter Lumsden, the main link person to the Methodists, attends the Citizens 6 day training.
In view of the City Council’s interest in making Preston a Living Wage City, Clare Goff visits Preston and is hosted by the City Council, including Matthew Brown. Fr Randall represented Preston Citizens.
Hugh Murdoch has meetings with the UCLan Students Union President and Jane Wild (Methodists). Peter Lumsden discusses Preston Citizens with the Preston Imams Forum.
Faith Groups are encouraged by Hugh Murdoch to have their own in-house gatherings. In view of this, John Battle presents to a group of 40-50 people, hosted by the Xaverians. Bishop Paul Swarbrick attends.
Rabbi Robert Ash leads the steering group, and he attends a Citizens Higher Education Symposium with Peter Lumsden and Fr Randall.
Citizens UK obtains a grant from the Big Lottery Growth Project to develop chapters in 10 new areas across the UK. Preston Citizens is identified as one of these.
Greater Manchester Citizens Mayoral Assembly was attended by 12 people from St Wilfrid’s and Paul Bunyan’s contacts, and a further 8 people from other institutions in Preston.
Hugh Murdoch, missioned to visit Preston Citizens by Citizens UK, makes the first of monthly visits till his departure in March 2019. St Wilfrid’s Jesuit Community provides accommodation for his overnight visits, and a parlour as needed.
Neil Jameson (CEO of Citizens UK) and Paul Regan (Methodist Church) visit Preston, hosted by Preston Faith Forum using UCLan as a venue. Greg Smith (Anglicans / Methodists) coordinates the work with the help of a steering group which includes Fr Peter Randall and Patricia Hesketh Sullivan of St Wilfrid’s. Greg works in this capacity as part of Together Lancashire (till end of 2016).
A follow-up meeting to gauge interest was attended by 18 people, including Geoff Thompson and Joseph Cooper from St Wilfrid’s Faith & Justice Group. Subsequently the Faith & Justice Group receives regular updates via Fr Randall. City Cllrs Matthew Brown, Neil Derby, and Peter Kelly were present at this meeting at St Stephen’s, Broadgate.
Derek Whyte (City Council Deputy Chief Executive) facilitates financial support of £3,000 from the Council for the purpose of training only.
Anglican Bishop Philip North offer encouragement to the steering group, based on his previous experience of Citizens UK.
Paul Bunyan (Edge Hill University, Childhood & Youth Studies) joined the steering group. As a Catholic with a background in religious studies, he helped to found a Citizens chapter in East London.
Fr Peter Randall asks for financial support (£4,000 each) from the Bishops of Lancaster, Salford, and the Archbishop of Liverpool. Bishop Michael Campbell asks Canon Adrian Towers to give moral support to Fr Randall in these initial stages. He regrets that the Diocese does not have funds to offer. Bishop John Arnold offers £2,500, and Canon Peter Hopkinson of that diocese facilitates the transfer of funds.
Paul Bunyan facilitates a workshop attended by 20 people, on how community organising might work.
At a Deanery Meeting of clergy, Paul Bunyan presented on community organising, courtesy of Canon Adrian Towers (Dean).
A Founding AGM is attended by 20 people, mostly from faith groups, including Canon Adrian Towers. UCLan provides the venue. Tom Chigbo (Organiser for Leeds Citizens) and Anglican Bishop Philip North attend. A Citizens Charter is presented to the UCLan vice-chancellor at his investiture. Peter Lumsden, and Andy Pratt (Blackburn C of E Diocese / Islam) helped to bring members of local Muslim communities.
Fr Peter Randall meets with Catholic Head Teachers at their annual gathering in the Lake District. Brendan Conboy and Canon Luis Rucillo help to facilitate the input which Fr Randall gives to 8 Head Teachers from High Schools in the Diocese, including Nigel Ranson of Our Lady’s Catholic High School, Preston.