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Transforming communities with Citizens UK

King’s becomes the first whole-university strategic partner of Citizens UK

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Photo by Joan Andres Martinez Franco (Saint Gabriel's College)

King’s has worked with the South London chapter of Citizens UK since 2017. This year we formalised our partnership by becoming the first whole-university strategic partner of Citizens UK, Europe’s largest and most diverse alliance of civil society institutions.

Led by its member organisations, Citizens UK empowers communities to act together for power, social justice and the common good. They do this by teaching their members community organising techniques so that they can have an impact on the issues that matter to them. They also develop the leadership capacity of their members to achieve victories that change lives and transform communities.

Several impactful projects at King’s are a product of community organising training that staff have undertaken, such as Campus Conversations, North Star and Conversations about Race. As part of our partnership, King’s staff and students can now undertake Citizens UK’s community organising training. If you would like to take part in a bespoke community organising course for King's, please complete this application form. 

We are delighted that King's College London have become institutional members of Citizens UK and we’re excited about this ground-breaking partnership. It is a testament to both the vision and hard work of the university’s staff, who are deploying community organising techniques to join up efforts across widening participation, research and student success. They are ensuring that the university has a wider scope and impact, reaching both their students and communities in London and beyond.– Matthew Bolton, Executive Director, Citizens UK

We celebrated our partnership with Citizens UK at Saint Gabriel's College in Lambeth with performances by students, talks on key collaborative projects, guests taking part in "relational 121s" and a symbolic signing of this ground-breaking membership.

I am very proud of our partnership with Citizens UK and all that we have achieved so far. Together we can make lasting change to our local, national and international communities.– Professor Ed Byrne AC, President & Principal, King’s College London

King’s and Citizens UK are currently working together on the following transformative projects:

Parent Power

Parent Power is an innovative parental engagement project run by King’s Widening Participation Department in partnership with Citizens UK. The project recruits and trains parents from King’s local boroughs to become experts in university access and campaigners on educational equality within their communities. Since the project began in July 2017, it has engaged over 200 underrepresented parents, recruiting 35 as local parent power leaders.

The parents meet every six weeks to discuss issues concerning educational inequality and receive training from King’s staff on topics such as the unaffordability of private tutoring, social and cultural capital, competitive university applications and youth violence. The parents have led a series of successful campaigns, most notably securing fully funded bespoke open days at universities across the UK and winning bursary places at private summer schools for the second year running.

In recognition of its successes, Parent Power won the Guardian’s Social and Community Impact Award in April 2019. The programme has also featured on wonkhe.com and the EdTech podcast.

Latinx

Latinx refers to a person of Latin American origin or descent and is used as a gender-neutral or non-binary alternative to Latino or Latina.

For years, UK-based Latinx students have applied through UCAS selecting code 80: ‘Other ethnic background’. This means that the eighth biggest minority community in London are unable to identify as a specific ethnic group, which hinders the development of a stable Latinx identity and sense of belonging in the education system. It also means that the evidence base relating to the Latinx community in education is poor.

 King’s and Citizens UK are committed to working with the inspiring young women of LatinXcluded, who brought this issue to our attention. Not only is King’s the first university to officially recognise Latinx applicants, we have committed to taking institutional action on Latinx staff and student representation through inclusion in our Race Equality Action Plan.

To raise greater awareness of this issue, King’s hosted the launch of the Latin Education Network in November which brought together people from the Latinx community, community organisations, universities and other educational groups. This event also served as the launch of a new report commissioned by King’s into Latinx representation, engagement and participation, as well as the official launch of the Spanish-language Parent Power, ‘Empoderando Padres’.

Our work with Citizens UK and the Latinx community aims to provide hope of a better future for young Latinx people who have, thus far, been invisible.

Community Sponsorship status

King’s, in partnership with Citizens UK, will become the first higher education provider in the UK to become a Refugee Sponsoring Community and, with it, to acquire official recognition as the UK’s first Refugee Welcome University under the UK’s Community Sponsorship Scheme. At present, ‘sponsoring communities’ are understood to be collections of individuals with shared interests residing in a particular place, typically a local town or borough. King’s will broaden this concept by enabling an academic community to become the sponsor of a student impacted by forced migration.

The project, which is led by Professor Bronwyn Parry, Dr Leonie Ansems De Vries and Anna Laverty, brings together resettlement experts from the UK Home Office and the UNHCR, who will together identify a student displaced by forced migration in the Middle East. The student will be sponsored to come to London and undertake a degree at King’s. This ground-breaking project will allow the student (and their immediate family) to gain further education and permanent resident status in the UK.

Refugees Welcome – Community Organising for Social Justice: A Service-led learning module

This module, developed with Citizens UK, will form part of King's Sanctuary Programme’s commitment to develop practical and innovative responses by drawing on, and developing, the combined skills and experiences of King’s staff and students. 

Children into Citizens Campaign

After listening to the concerns of local parents during Parent Power meetings, King’s backed the campaign for the Home Office to reduce the application fee for child citizenship from £1012 to cost price. King’s hosted a meeting of 400 people from the community and the leader of Lambeth Council who agreed to be a champion for the Children into Citizens Campaign, while senior staff from King’s were part of a Citizens UK delegation who met with the former Immigration Minister, Caroline Nokes, to discuss the issue. King’s staff and Parent Power leaders were also part of a 1,200-person political assembly during which the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, pledged his support.

In addition to supporting the campaign, King’s has been instrumental in setting up the Citizenship Payment Plan to provide interest free loans to parents to pay for their children's citizenship applications and avoid them taking out risky and expensive debt. 

Our partnership with Citizens UK is integral to our commitment to serve our local communities and make the world a better place.

Find out more about Citizens UK on their website.