Citizens UK training is one of the most important elements of our work. Training and development can happen in some many different ways; in the classroom at school, from the pulpits in church, at Friday Prayers or in one to one conversations. But nothing is more powerful than the Six Day residential training run by Citizens UK. This training was being led by myself and Sebastien Chapleau as we are the senior organisers within Citizens UK leading on the educational work of community organising. I love training and learning with the trainees although it’s a really tiring week!
In February during the half term we held a very special six day training with a focus on people involved in community organising in schools or with youth groups. 50 people committed to giving up a week of their time and staying in Birmingham for one of the first out of London Citizens UK trainings. We were in the NASWT conference venue in Longbridge with one of the most diverse training groups I’ve ever seen! We had Jewish leaders from north London, teachers from secondary and primary schools including The Willow on Broadwater Farm in Tottenham, ex-gang leaders from Brixton, priests from Hackney and a whole lot more. Ian Turlunch, who is the Youth Minister at New Testament Church of God and a teacher in Watford, came from Brent Citizens.
The training began on Sunday afternoon with giant rounds so everyone can introduce themselves and then we run a role play to teach about power, our stereotypes of the powerful and understanding how to negotiate for the change we want. On the Monday we unpack a lot of Community Organising concepts about power, organising around self-interest and throughout Monday and Tuesday we push people to understand how to build relationships and develop the power of their organisation. On Wednesday we went to watch one of the first big meetings of the new CitizensUK Birmingham. It was a really exciting chance to see how to develop a broad-based organisation and some of the trainees offered messages of support for the growing teams of leaders in Birmingham getting organised. On Thursday, the teams started to develop plans and Thursday evening was a wonderful series of storytelling, singing, sharing and I could the genuine bonds that had formed over the week.
Ian had a great time and we were able to spend time together making a great plan for the future of North London Citizens at New Testament Church of God. I’m excited about how he will be putting all these skills into practice.