19 September 2023, The Tablet

Diocese works to help Citizens UK develop agenda for general election

Diocese works to help Citizens UK develop agenda for general election

Arriva buses were lobbied not to charge 16 and 17-year-olds adult fares.
Both photos by Tyne and Wear Citizens Organisers.

A Catholic diocese has been working with Citizens UK, a grassroots alliance of organisations working for social justice and the common good, to help develop an agenda for the general election.

Fr Chris Hughes, priest of Hexham and Newcastle diocese, one of the two strategic partners of Tyne and Wear Citizens, said, “It is inspiring to see how the campaigns which diocesan members have been involved in have helped to develop some of the key themes.”

He added, “Young people in our diocese have influenced the campaigns for school-based counselling, improving racial justice in education and achieving cheaper public transport.” Pupils of St Thomas More school in North Shields have had a particular role in these campaigns.

The diocese has also been involved in campaigning to make Newcastle an accredited  “living wage city”. Nationally, Citizens UK reports that around 3.5 million people still earn less than the real living wage, with women and minority ethnic workers disproportionately likely to be in low paid jobs.

Parishioners of St Cuthbert and St Joseph parish, North Shields, and  other members of Tyne and Wear Citizens  plant trees donated  by Northumbria Wildlife Trust  in a local park,  after a joint campaign to urge the council to improve the park.

Citizens UK’s “national agenda for change’” has seven themes including the living wage, mental health and migrant justice, developed after listening to challenges UK communities are facing first-hand, which it hopes will contribute to shaping the political debate ahead of the next election. “There is lot that connects to Catholic Social Teaching,” said Fr Hughes.

On Tuesday, Fr Hughes was in a group meeting with Sir John Battle, chair of Leeds Diocesan Justice and Peace Commission and Leeds Citizens, to talk about his input on a webinar Tyne and Wear Citizens is organising on 27 September on Catholic social teaching and community crganising, called “discipleship, politics and anger”. 

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