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From New Labour to May: The long view of power from a Council Estate

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profile-Tim-TIn this blog, our Development Director, Tim Thorlby outlines the challenges facing the new Prime Minister, and how things look from outside the Westminster bubble…

“I was the future once”

A rueful comment as another Prime Minister exits the political stage, knowing that his time is up. Such moments of transition are times of reflection. David Cameron’s time in Number 10 is already being analysed, with his initial hopes and dreams now being set against assessments of his actual legacy.

The Church’s War on Wonga… And what happened next

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profile-DavidDavid Barclay, who’s spent the past four years developing our work on credit, debt and money blogs for us about the successful pilot of the Church Credit Champions Network

The Church hasn’t always followed through on good intentions. But at a recent event in St Paul’s Cathedral, CTC brought together churches and credit unions to celebrate the way that Christians in London have been making good on the Archbishop of Canterbury’s famous ‘War on Wonga’ comments made back in 2013.

The Church Credit Champions Network was set up by CTC in response to the Archbishop of Canterbury’s intervention because we believe local churches have resources which, if unlocked, can increase the capacity of credit unions to provide access to savings and responsible credit. The Network has been become one of the major projects to come out of the Archbishop’s initiative, and we marked the end of its two year pilot in London with a special evaluation event.

CTC’s Summer Internship kicks off with young leaders from around the UK and beyond

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photo(10)Our Summer Internship (previously known as Jellicoe) is currently taking place here in east London. After three days of training with Citizens UK and CTC, the 11 interns are taking part in placements with local churches involved in community organising. Selina Stone blogs about what has been happening so far…

Our cohort of interns has arrived from different cities around the UK, with one flying in from the USA on his way home to the Ukraine! Each of them has a project brief explaining where they will be placed, who their supervisors will be and where they will be staying for the duration of the month. None of the interns have been trained in community organising before, and all of them are students or recent graduates, often discerning the way forward in their studies, careers and ministry. Some of them were involved in Citizens UK’s #NoPlaceForHate campaign at London transport hubs – offering stickers and leaflets for what to do in the event of witnessing a racist incident.

Brexit: How can we reflect and respond?

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CTC logo markAfter the UK voted to leave the EU on Thursday, we have gathered together some of the responses to help reflection and response…

CTC’s Director Angus Ritchie was part of a panel of theologians asked by ABC Religion to respond to the result. His thoughts were published along with the likes of former Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, and Professor John Milbank.

Angus says, “The challenge for Christians (however we voted in the referendum) is to listen to their genuine and justified grievances, and to help them organise for justice – making common cause with the migrant communities which the worst of the Leave campaign encouraged them to scapegoat. None of this can be accomplished by pontificating from afar. It requires a patient engagement; listening and building relationships. Such patience was of course the practice of Jesus himself – not lecturing the people of his own day from afar on the need to welcome Samaritans, but living and working in Nazareth for thirty years before living out that costly hospitality.”

Community Organising: London learns lessons from New York

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photo(10)Selina Stone from CTC and Emmanuel Gotora from Citizens UK were present at a historic event in New York, as East Brooklyn Congregations (EBC) welcomed twenty new institutions into membership. EBC is part of the Industrial Areas Foundation, which developed broad based community organizing and is linked to Citizens UK and CTC. Selina explains what happened and why it was so important for community organising in the UK…

EBC is one alliance made up of 40 civil society institutions from four different neighbourhoods in east Brooklyn – a diverse area, just like east London. On the evening of Thursday 2nd June 2016, 1,500 citizens from EBC packed into Mount Lebanon Baptist Church in Bed Stuy. Vans arrived delivering dozens of senior citizens and church groups. Families arrived with young children and many passersby paused to see what was taking place.

Ramadan – building relationships and breaking bread

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IMG_20160523_113700[1]Our Near Neighbours Co-ordinator Sotez Chowdhury blogs on his first month at CTC, and how Christians can use Ramadan to build relationships and act with Muslims on issues of common concern:

It’s four weeks since I’ve joined the team here as the Near Neighbours Co-ordinator and it’s already been quite a time. Being managed by priests, based in a crypt, getting to grips with what an archdeacon actually is … Many have asked what is like to work in such a context. I answer that what has been remarkable is the way I have been welcomed so warmly. I see the love of my Christian colleagues for Jesus and God, and I see compassion for others in their way of life – now even more so as we have just entered into the Holy month of Ramadan.

A weekend of hearts

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Screen Shot 2015-02-18 at 11.09.48This weekend, Roman Catholics have been celebrating two important feasts of the heart. Our Director Angus Ritchie blogs on their meaning, and what they can teach all Christians…

For Roman Catholics, and indeed for some Anglicans, this is a weekend of hearts. On Friday, they celebrated the Feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, and on Saturday the Immaculate Heart of Mary.

Growing up in a Highland Manse, neither feast loomed large in my childhood. I only began to ponder them when I was a Curate in East London. My parish was dedicated to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. The Catholic church across the road was dedicated to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. What, I wondered, were these feasts about? What did they have to teach me?

Church at the heart of community fightback against Ripper Museum

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CTC logo markWhen a promised museum about women’s history in east London was turned into a celebration of serial killer Jack The Ripper instead, many local people were unhappy. Here we look at how community organising helped turn the anger into action – with the church at the heart of the response…

The outrage which met the opening of the Jack The Ripper museum was understandable. Having been promised a vibrant celebration of women’s contribution to east London, it was a bitter blow to be told that a man who murdered several women would be celebrated instead. Almost immediately, protest sprung up.

But with museum owners showing no sign of remorse, the energy needed to be turned into action. A series of one to one meetings between campaigners raised the need to take action, rather than just protest. Soon, the idea of a pop up exhibition of women’s history was born.

Strengthening our Institutions: CTC welcomes the world to London

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photo(10)The Centre for Theology & Community and Citizens UK were delighted to host an international symposium bringing together community organisers and leaders from the USA, Australia, New Zealand, Denmark, Germany and across the UK. Selina Stone blogs about a wonderful time of learning and action!…

The symposium ‘Strengthening our Institutions: through action for the Common Good’ took place in London from Tuesday 26th – Friday 29th April 2016. Following an initial conference hosted two years ago by the Industrial Areas Foundation (IAF) in Chicago, leaders and community organisers gathered in London, the city which gave birth to Citizens UK. The purpose of the event was to both deepen relationships across national borders, and to engage with the theory and practice of developing institutions through public action. Attendees also witnessed the largest-ever Citizens UK action, when 6,000 Londoners gathered at the Copper Box on the Olympic Park for the 2016 Mayoral Assembly.

Meet our new team member – building for the common good in east London

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0e4cfc7The newest member of the our team is Sotez Chowdhury, who has just been appointed Co-ordinator of Near Neighbours (Eastern London). In this next phase of Near Neighbours in our area, there will be a particular focus on “micro-organising” – that is, building sustainable long-term local alliances. Sotez is well qualified for this work. He’s an experienced community organiser and has worked with churches, mosques and other faith institutions as well as teaching at Queen Mary University. Here he tells us about his experiences and his hopes for his new role at CTC…

“I’ve spent the last six year working for Citizens UK – aiming to unify communities by building relationships with people from all walks of life, training community leaders and building civil society alliances to campaign for the common good. Times are tough here in east London and elsewhere – there are plenty of challenges that face us. However, I have been inspired by the potential of individuals and groups to make an impact – and that’s where Near Neighbours comes in, allowing people to fulfil their potential, innovate and make change.

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