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Our June newsletter is out!

This month we’re talking about citizenship.

  • Local Area Coordination in Wiltshire
  • Derby Evaluation Report 2018-2021
  • #OperationWIFI… a year on
  • and more…

A note from Nick

Building Blocks of Better: Citizenship

Hello, I hope you well?  Thank you for stopping by and checking our June’s newsletter.

This month we’re reflecting on the principle of Citizenship. It’s a wonderful yet often problematic word depending on your interpretation of its meaning. For some it has distressing connotations, especially when they or a loved one has had their citizenship denied through legal process or absence of birth right. Our use of the word as a principle in Local Area Coordination doesn’t ignore the legal interpretation of citizenship, but in general we take a broader view of its meaning. We are striving for a society in which all people in our communities have the same rights, responsibilities and opportunities to participate in and contribute to the life of the community, respecting and supporting their identity, beliefs, values and practices.

Local Area Coordinators are engaged in building meaningful relationships with people who often don’t feel a sense of connection and belonging to their community for whatever reason. We also hear how people feel failed by a system that wasn’t designed to meet their needs or understand their circumstances. Equally, where people are accessing services, we hear stories of people feeling stuck in a complex systemic web previously invisible to them before they came in to contact with it. People in this situation often feel like they have been written off as service users rather than being encouraged to be citizens. All of this can lead to an incredible waste of talent and life which makes us all poorer as a result.

What is the antidote? Well of course there’s no one silver bullet and it’s complex.  However, for those engaged in Local Area Coordination we believe by valuing people as citizens from outset of a relationship, by respecting and helping people grow their natural authority and by modelling a support system that fosters citizenship as its ultimate aim, well, that’s a pretty good start. Local Area Coordinators do that by being locally present, available, focussed on relationships, building and celebrating local assets, and always starting with someone’s vision of a good life.

During our conference, we were fortunate to have Dr Simon Duffy help us reflect on this. You can read his full piece in Building Blocks of Better. However, to finish this I thought I’d share his wonderful poem. For me, it says it all I think, and as he says here, our citizenship begins the moment we claim it!

OUR CITIZENSHIP (2020) by Simon Duffy
If they tell you,
You don’t belong
To their club, their class, their country;
Then remember that we all long
For more than hollow spaces
And empty boxes.
Don’t feel small because some small man
Tries to make himself feel bigger
By clinging to some flag
By claiming our fathers’ victories
And denying our fathers’ sins.
We liberate ourselves,
When we see that we belong:
Right here, right now,
Amongst those who’ve found us.
Our citizenship begins
The moment that we claim it;
Don’t let it be defined
By those seeking to deny it.
Let no club, no class, no country
Divide or categorise you.
We are citizens of every place
Where and when
We start to build it.
Our little lives burn brightest
When love and fellowship unite us.

Thank you,
Nick Sinclair