News from Citizens UK

Called To Action: Catholic Social Teaching and Community Organising in School and Colleges - Tuesday 2 July 
 
On Tuesday 2 July over 200 young people, teachers and school leaders from all over England and Wales gathered in the parish hall of The Church of the Holy Apostles, Pimlico. The event was arranged by a team of teachers and chaplains who work in Catholic schools and are engaged with Citizens UK. 

St Clare’s Catholic Primary School in Handsworth led the charge for the Archdiocese at the event.

We gathered to celebrate the existing Community Organising work taking place in our schools, and inspire others to get involved. 

The event also served to launch a new ‘Catholic Social Teaching and Community Organising toolkit for schools and colleges’.
 
Cardinal Vincent Nichols discussed his previous work with Citizens UK and reminded everyone that we are all on a “journey guided by our faith, strengthened by hope, and led by our desire for charity and justice.”. 

Following this, he offered his prayers and blessing for Citizens UK’s organising work in Catholic schools and colleges, including the new toolkit, and agreed to share our work with Pope Francis on his next visit to Rome. There is a hope that a delegation can visit the Vatican to share this work in person.
 
Raymond Friel OBE, chief executive of Caritas Social Action Network (CSAN), reminded everyone of the upcoming year of jubilee and how schools can be ready to make pledges which links to their work with organising. He explained the connection between love and justice, and reminded everyone of Pope Benedict XVI’s call to have a “heart that sees”. 
 
Anita Motha, chief executive of Million Minutes, celebrated the work of the different campaigns that young people had been involved in as well as reminding the young people that they are the “living catalysts for change”. “You are inspiring!”, she told the audience which contained over 100 young people.
 
Schools and colleges that were featured in the toolkit celebrated and shared some of their work during the afternoon, where they have been living out the principles of Catholic Social Teaching through the model of Community Organising. 

Vic Rivett, Headteacher at St Clare’s Catholic Primary School, in Handsworth, Birmingham, said, “It was a real coming together of so much great work - the achievements of these young people are incredible - securing the Living Wage at large companies, reduced bus fares for a whole region, ensuring greater funding for mental health support in schools. However it felt like only the beginning - we will now be working out next steps with the support of key Catholic organisations, and with the blessing of Cardinal Nichols, and look forward, in great hope, to sharing and celebrating this work with the Holy Father in Rome.”
 
Young people from our Catholic schools confidently co-chaired the event and conducted a panel discussion with other young people engaged in Community Organising within Citizens UK chapters. One said: “Power can feel limited in this country, especially as we cannot vote, but when we work together we can be powerful.”, while another said, “With our energy as young people, there can be a tsunami of change.” One student pointed out that young people are ready to “demolish the divides of our society and rebuild stronger.” and that, “Every win is a win, big or small, persist, try, try, try and try again.”

Citizens UK - Called to Action

Photographs:

Main photograph (above): St Clare's pupils and staff with Cardinal Vincent

(below) Whole group photo with Cardinal Vincent

(below) St Clare's pupils speaking to the audience