Keeping you in suspense…

Uncategorized l

Jellicoe interns are involved in planning a major Citizens UK event in the week of the General Election… we’d hoped to be able to make an announcement by now – but it looks as if it will later in the week before we can go public with the news.  You can also keep up to date with developments by following us on Twitter

THURSDAY MORNING UPDATE: The event will be on the afternoon of Monday, 3rd May in Methodist Central Hall, with leading political figures.  We’re waiting for Citizens UK to make a formal announcement, probably later on today.  We will blog the news – and st information on TV coverage – as soon as we have it.

It’s all happening…

Uncategorized l

Citizen organising remains at the heart of the election campaign, in a way we couldn’t have imagined even a few months ago…

Firstly  – as we covered in previous posts – we had David Cameron’s visit to London Citizens’ East End HQ and Labour’s manifesto commitments on our economic agenda

Secondly, our Jellicoe interns and staff were key to last week’s Tower Hamlets Accountability Assembly.  This included local MPs George Galloway and Jim Fitzpatrick, and Council Leader Lutfur Rahman – who gave his backing to our affordable housing campaign.  Here’s the video they were shown:

Thirdly, with the Clegg surge, Strangers into Citizens has gone centre stage (not least in today’s Daily Express…).  Nick Clegg agreed to back our campaign for an earned amnesty for undocumented migrants back when he was the LibDem spokesman on Home Affairs – and it’s in the manifesto.  It’s hard to write this off as his opponents want to – after all, the campaign also has the backing of Tory Mayor of London Boris Johnson and Labour Deputy Leader Harriet Harman!

Now, May 3rd is shaping up to be the biggest day yet for citizen organising and national politics.  Expect a major announcement here on Monday – if not before…

UPDATE: Magdalen College is hosting an election-night seminar on the impact of citizen organising on the campaign

New book on ‘the real Third Way’

Uncategorized l

With community organising making such an impact on the election debate, the Contextual Theology Centre has released a timely new book on the subject.  Crunch Time: A Call to Action includes essays by Luke Bretherton, Vincent Rougeau and Maurice Glasman on London Citizens’ economic agenda – including the Living Wage and anti-usury laws (now in the Labour manifesto) – and ends with a tour de force by John Milbank on Christian social teaching as ‘the real Third Way’ between the ‘idolatry’ of State and market.

Jellicoe anniversary

Uncategorized l

Heady times for Fr Jellicoe and the Jellicoe Community … who have both reached the front page of the Church Times this week!  The paper includes a piece by Prof Diarmaid MacCulloch, written to mark the 75th anniversary of Fr Jellicoe’s death, and another by Simon Cuff on his experience as a Jellicoe intern. 

The Bishop of London will preach at a service of thanksgiving for Fr Jellicoe and the Community on the evening of 25th July at St Martin-in-the-Fields, Trafalgar Square.  This is timed to coincide with the summer internship, when we will have over a dozen students from Oxford and London Universities placed with churches in East London.

Living Wage ‘to be in Labour manifesto’

Uncategorized l

According to today’s Daily Mirror, the Labour party is to put a Living Wage pledge into its forthcoming election manifesto – a huge success for London Citizens and all who work with them – including successive Jellicoe interns and the congregations in which they have been placed.  Contextual Theology Centre Director The Revd Angus Ritchie, who has been involved in the Living Wage Campaign from the start, hailed this as “really exciting news”.

“When London Citizens began the Living Wage Campaign, we knew it would be hard work to get this embedded as the policy of the Mayor of London.  We were delighted when Ken Livingstone and then Boris Johnson signed up.  I have to say, I didn’t think we’d get the backing of national politicians with such speed.  David Cameron told us last week that he was seriously considering the policy, and if this report is right, Gordon Brown is going to make a solid commitment to the Living Wage.”

Cameron visits London Citizens

Uncategorized l

Key figures in all the main political parties are now engaging seriously with London Citizens – both with the method of community organising (at the heart of the Jellicoe internship programme) and with the platform of issues with which it is responding to the credit crunch.  David Cameron met with congregational leaders and community organisers yesterday at the office of London Citizens and Citizens UK.  These included Adam Atkinson and Nick Coke who supervise Jellicoe interns in their local congregations and Angus Ritchie (Director of the Contextual Theology Centre).  Cameron has announced plans to train an army of 5000 citizens in community organising – and indicated the possibility of joining Boris Johnson’s in writing the Living Wage into government procurement policy. “Boris has done a brilliant job by going for living wage and I think government departments should all consider that.”

While today’s news reports focus on the Conservative relationship with London Citizens, the impact of organising is clear on all three parties.  London Citizens leaders met with Vince Cable recently to follow up the commitments made at the alliance’s November assembly in the Barbican – and The Guardian reports that Ed Miliband’s drafting of the Labour manifesto shows “clear signs of influence” by London Citizens.

Hackney holds politicians to account

Uncategorized l

As explained in an earlier post, one of our Jellicoe interns has left the UK to work for the Archbishop of the Sudan.  Rebecca Coleman had worked with the Parish of St John at Hackney, and during her internship the parish decided to join TELCO – the East London chapter of London Citizens.

Rebecca’s hard work is bearing fruit – as we see in this blog post from St John’s Rector, Fr Rob Wickham.  Fr Rob was previously Vicar of St Mary’s, Somers Town – the parish in which Basil Jellicoe served. 

About 150 people gathered at St John at Hackney Church on Monday night for the first TELCO Hackney Assembly since 2001. At this assembly, we gathered the four main Mayor candidates for Hackney, and we soughts pledges of support and partnership work from them in relation to the main campaigns of Living Wage, Strangers into Citizens and CitySafe.

In summary, all four main parties fully support The Living Wage Campaign, and have stated publicly that they will make Hackney into a Living Wage Borough in their new terms of office. This includes those employees employed by agencies on behalf of the borough.

All four parties said that they would work with TELCO on the Strangers into Citizens campaign, and they said that they would ask their respective political groups to support the pledge. The Labour candidate also stated that they would actively lobby MP’s to affect national policy. They also all said that they would work with us to look inot an Internship scheme, as proposed by TELCO.

Finally, they supported a presentation made by TELCO members from Hackney Free and Parochial School in relation to recycling, and also they would work with us as a response to the CitySafe proposal tio make all council buildings CitySafe Havens. This was following an excellent presentation made by Sandra Springer, whose son Mason presented Boris Johnson with his accolade for making City Hall the 200th Haven in London. Mason sadly died a few weeks ago. The Conservative candidate supported this proposal in its entirety.

Then, at the end, all candidates pledged their support in working with TELCO, and meeting at least every six months.

St John’s will be hosting two Jellicoe interns this summer – one from Rebecca’s college (Balliol), the other an ordinand from Ripon College, Cuddesdon.

Milbank lecture and book launch

Uncategorized l

Current and prospective Jellicoe Interns were involved in an evening of reflection and celebration as John Milbank gave the 2010 Citizens UK Lecture – and a new book was launched.  Both events were sponsored by CTC, which was a partner in the publication of Faithful Citizens.  This new book is an accessible introduction to theology and organising.  It is recommended reading for present and future members of the Jellicoe community.

‘Dispatches’ documentary on East London Mosque

Uncategorized l

Last week, Dispatches and the Sunday Telegraph claimed East London Mosque was the headquarters of a secretive, fundamentalist political network.  The Revd Angus Ritchie, Director of the Contextual Theology Centre blogs on local Christians’ experience of the Mosque:

Whether you read the papers, surf the net, or watch the TV, the media seems full of allegations against East London Mosque. Martin Bright claims it “plays a central role in promoting a sectarian Islam”. The Independent notes the Detroit bomber worshipped there. (On closer investigation, it turns out he attended three times – in a mosque that has six thousand at Friday prayers.) Last week’s Dispatches documentary on Channel 4 alleged the mosque and its allies were building ‘Britain’s Islamic republic’ here in Tower Hamlets– a shadowy conspiracy to place extreme Muslims in positions of power.

A frequent theme of such attacks is that the many dignitaries who visit and praise the mosque are naive – descending on Tower Hamlets in search of feel-good photo opportunities, while those who live ‘on the ground’ know the mosque to be a more sinister operation.

The truth is very different.

All too often, it is the journalists who descend on Tower Hamlets – in search of alarmist headlines. By contrast, those ‘on the ground’ know the vital role East London Mosque has played in promoting Muslim engagement with the wider community.

Broad-based community organising is now flavour of the month – through the good offices of politicians as diverse as James Purnell, Boris Johnson and of course Barack Obama. Fifteen years ago it was a very different story. East London Mosque was a crucial foundation-stone in London Citizens, the capital’s community organising alliance. It joined what was then an embryonic movement. Without the Mosque’s involvement and support, it would not have burgeoned into an alliance of 150 religious and civic groups – winning £25 million for low-paid workers in the capital, and influencing all three parties in their response to the credit crunch.

Not so quick, I hear the conspiracy theorists reply. Perhaps an alliance like London Citizens gives the mosque the cover it needs to advance a more sinister agenda? If East London Mosque was now climbing on the bandwagon of community organising, that claim might seem less ludicrous. But the mosque has been a loyal and constructive ally from the start – a crucial catalyst for the growth in relationships and in trust across the faiths and cultures of Tower Hamlets.

Neil Jameson, London Citizens’ lead organiser, says this of the East London Mosque: “They regularly send their leaders on our training. They work amicably and respectfully with Buddhists, Christians, Jews, Sikhs and Hindus and with Trade Unionists of faith and of no faith. I have visited, trained and worked alongside their key leaders for more than twenty years and can testify that they have been outstanding and loyal members of the alliance.” When an alliance which embracing atheist trade unionists and leading evangelical churches speaks of the mosque in such glowing terms, it’s time for the scare-mongers to listen up.

The depressing tide of suspicion and vitriol places Muslims – here in Tower Hamlets and across the country – in an impossible position. If they do engage in politics, they are damned as sinister conspirators. If they don’t, they are damned as isolationist.

It is time the rest of us accepted our Muslim colleagues for what they are: people who share the same streets and neighbourhoods, and many of the same hopes and fears as any other citizen. Christians who have lived ‘on the ground’ in East London for many years know them as colleagues and as friends. There are preachers of hate and violence in every community. We know that the best antidote to this is face-to-face contact and action together on issues of common concern. We are proud to count East London Mosque among our greatest allies in that work.


Get every new post on this blog delivered to your Inbox.

Join other followers: