A guest blog in the wake of the General Election from our associate partners, Citizens UK.
MPs and Citizens Working Together for the Common Good.
Citizens UK, the national community organising charity, today looks forward to working with the newly elected MPs from all parties who agreed to help us tackle issues of mutual concern identified at pre-election meetings.
During the snap-election period Citizens UK groups across England and Wales organised 55 events to meet with their local parliamentary candidates; from Citizens Assemblies, to round-table discussions and meetings. These events alerted the parliamentary candidates to local issues and asked them to work with Citizens UK around identified areas of concern. Many MPs agreed to work with Citizens UK local groups, and accepted invitations to join local Great Get Together meals, should they win the parliamentary seat.
Between the 8th and 22nd May, Citizens UK ran a voter registration campaign; 198 people were trained as voter registration ambassadors, 17 colleges ran voter turnout drives, 1,966 people were registered to vote at these actions, and in addition to the intensive voter registration work, we tasked students to maximise ‘reach’, making as many people as possible aware of the voter registration deadline, young people used online and offline tactics from Twitter, to newsletters, canteen stalls, class announcements and email blasts to push the message to over 96,000 people.
Sarah Holtam, co-chair, Citizens UK Council said: “We have come together as diverse institutions and joined forces because we recognise together we are stronger and we have more power when we are united. The work carried out during this snap election means that we now have a great base to start the business of making change happen.
“We respect the elected MPs and look forward to working with them in their constituencies.”
The election activity means that Citizens UK groups across the country can now build strong working relationships with their local MP. With MPs committing to a range of actions from hosting Living Wage Week events with local businesses to agreeing to visit a refugee camp in Greece as part of Citizens UK’s Safe Passage initiative.
Revd Tim Norwood, co-chair, Citizens UK Council said: “Whilst the snap election took us by surprise, as civil society leaders we saw this as a great opportunity to build or strengthen relationships with those people looking to represent us and our communities.“We want to work together with politicians to create a more just, inclusive and welcoming country; and that can only happen if we engage with the political process.”“Citizens UK brings together people of different ages, ethnicities, those of faith and no-faith; and by listening to each other we find the common issues that unite us. Civil society institutions have more power when they join forces.”
Citizens UK has a proud history of community organising and through this work has developed several high profile, successful national campaigns such as bringing about an end to child detention for immigration purposes; creating the Living Wage Foundation which to date has accredited more than 3,200 employers who all voluntarily pay a wage rate that’s based on the real cost of living; and establishing Safe Passage to ensure safe and legal routes are made available to child refugees and vulnerable adults, reuniting families torn apart by war and conflict.
Alongside these national campaigns, Citizens UK groups have won hundreds of local asks by working together for the common good, with everything from improved road crossings to improved race hate recording and dementia friendly training for church congregations.
Citizens UK Executive Director, Neil Jameson, said: “We are also very pleased that many MPs from all parties will be joining us in their constituencies for a meal to celebrate the Great Get Together in memory of Jo Cox, the MP murdered last year. This is a fitting way to mark the start of our work together; local people from a whole host of diverse institutions coming together with their MP to tackle issues around the common good. We have more to unite us than to divide us.”
Pictured: An Assembly in Birmingham
At Greenbelt this year we are pleased to be able to host a conversation about the Jo Cox’s murder and its legacy in the More in Common initiative with founders of the movement from her constituency in Batley and Spen, including Jo’s sister, Kim Leadbetter.