Wednesday, 21 July 2010

Mission: Money Mentors is a Massive Success!

In response to the economic crisis, members of London Citizens decided they needed to better educate our young people to take responsibility with money. From this idea Money Mentors was born. London Citizens Schools Organisers in partnership with and Credit Action trained 30 undergraduates and recent graduates to be Money Mentors. The Money Mentors have then gone into our member schools to run a day’s ‘Mission:Money Mentors’ programme to teach students about budgeting, credit and debt and making smart shopping choices, in an active, inspiring way. The programme has been running throughout July and has been highly praised for delivering engaging and relevant learning:

* It was the best financial literacy day we have had and we would love to be involved again (Lampton School)
* Our Money Mentors were fabulous - thank you! (Hounslow Manor School)
* Thanks a lot for such a fantastic show last week. Students and staff thoroughly enjoyed the Money Mentors. I hope we can have it next year as well. (Central Foundation Girls School)

And – stop press – we have just heard word that J P Morgan will be funding the roll-out of the programme for two years – to enable more schools and more community members to benefit sustainably from the work. If your school is interested in being part of this opportunity please get in touch with me direct.

Tuesday, 20 July 2010

The CITIZEN:YOUTH Assembly - what a day!

So it was that hundreds and hundreds of active young citizens gathered at the O2 on Monday 12th July for a spectacular showcase, celebration and negotiation on all their change-making, community-organising work this year.   Young leaders led the entire event, and it capped off a phenomenal year for London Citizens and its schools, colleges, universities and youth groups.  Well done to everyone involved: check out the pics below!

Tuesday, 27 April 2010

Hounslow Manor: Citizens in Action begins!

Here's a reflection from two of the exceptional Citizen Schools leaders from Hounslow Manor school, who are just kicking off their next 'community outreach' phase of their change plan.  Here, Zabi and Mushtaq reflect on their participation in their team's first meeting:

"With the help of our great teachers and partners we decided to choose Tuesdays for our gathering day to discuss what we are going to do. Last week me and my partner took some pictures of the students when they were busy gathering information and contacts of other schools so that they can be come more powerful and have loads of allies working together.  Also we divided our project between the students in 3 divisions which are CONNECTORS, DEVELOPERS BROADCASTERS. The connectors contacted different schools around the area, and the developers wrote scripts (outlines) linked to aims. The broadcasters which included me and my partners selected best photos for Ben. As the broadcasters, me and my friend were really excited and enjoyed taking pictures of the students while they were doing their work for the project and at the end of the meeting we felt proud of the pictures that we took and the teachers gave us a lot of complements for our job and encouraged us to continue our great work."    

Sunday, 18 April 2010

Change is possible...Amanda, Year 9 Citzen School Student Leader at Prendergast Ladywell Fields College tells her story

The best map of Lewisham I’ve ever seen hangs on the west wall of Sir Steve Bullock’s office. He’s the Mayor of Lewisham and the map is what I was looking at as we put forward our demands for change. We asked the Mayor to expand CitySafe Havens, founded in memory of Jimmy Mizen, to include our local shops; to investigate and implement the best solution to our unsafe school crossing, and for the Mayor himself to judge the design and support the implementation of new recyling bins in the borough. On all three of our demands he gave us a firm yes. How I got to be there is the story I’d like to tell.

Last July we joined the Citizens’ Schools Alliance, signing up to take part in the “Pathway” programme. We travelled to the Institute of Education for the launch where there was much talk of being active, taking part, change, politics, the fabric of society and something about the 5 P's which included power, politics and young people. We left excited but not quite sure what would follow.

Over the next few months we began to meet up with the other schools involved in Lewisham and Jamie and Ben from London Citizens asked us to consider what it meant to be part of a society, a community, and to be a citizen. They also began to make us believe that as individuals and as a school we could actually make a difference.

November was soon upon us and our number had grown to forty. We wanted to tell the rest of the school about our project and agreed that the best way of doing this was to tell our classes ourselves. So for six weeks once a week in PHSE we took the lessons and asked people the same questions Jamie and Ben had posed us. Young people asking young people to become involved with their communities, to identify things we all wanted to change and improve.

Just before Christmas we narrowed down these issues into four clear campaigns and met to decide how we would get people to listen to us. What followed was by far the hardest part of our journey.

We made phone calls, sent letters, emails and slowly built up contacts.
We asked if we could attend community meetings, and turned up at any public meeting we could find. We visited local Primary Schools, Churches, Shops, and Youth Clubs and listened to their views to improve our ideas.

We did this again and again until very slowly things began to change and people's reaction began to shift. People had begun to invite us to attend their meetings, people had started to ask us for contacts. Somehow we had gained a critical mass, we now had credibility, we were finally being taken seriously. From this point things started to move very quickly and our campaigns began to take on a life of its own. Suddenly we were being invited everywhere, doors were opening and people were begining to not only listen but genuinely commit.

We put our ideas to the London Citizens alliance in Lewisham and with our ideas backed by local members of our team then practiced their negotiation and prepared to take part in a meeting with the all the alliance members in the borough and the Mayor.

We were excited and a little nervous but put our ideas across well. Other local leaders give us a big round of applause for our commitment, strength and energy.

It has taken six months and during that time we’ve learnt how things really work. We’ve researched our targets, prepared hard and built a team and realised that politics and rules work in different whey than we thought. We had to bend a few rules we came across and we needed to believe in ourselves and we did. It can be done, change is possible.

I would just like to say thanks to the Mayor Steve Bullock, thanks to London Citizens without who none of this would have happened, and thanks to everyone who has helped us get to this point. So that’s our story so far and how I got to see the best map of Lewisham ever. I will leave you with a couple of the lessons I have learnt along the way and the Citizens team at Prendergast look forward to hearing your story too.

Lessons for change…

You need to believe in your selves.
You need to genuinely believe you can change things.
You need to be prepared for lots of hard work, and lots of meetings.
You need to see every person as someone you might be able to help, and then and only then you can see if they can help you (read this carefully).
You need to be well prepared, use scripts, rehearse, film yourselves.
You need to research the people you are meeting.
You need to aim high.
You need to not be afraid to promise first and find a way after.
You need to be prepared for lots of hard work.

Wednesday, 7 April 2010

Inset Day...Citizen School Style

While teachers rest and the Easter holidays begin....Citizen Schools Organisers Jamie and Ben take time to develop. Twitter, Flickr and other social media skills have been the order of the day. Watch this space to keep up to speed on all that's going on and for opportunities that Citizen Schools will be offering in the near future.

Sunday, 21 March 2010

Teachers Power Up in Greenwich

Teachers from three London Citizens Schools in Greenwich came together last week to plan how they can integrate their "active citizenship" work and support each other in making change happen. Rahima Choudhury from John Roan, Erin Culley from Thomas Tallis and Emily Stephens from Black Heath Blue Coats are all active members of our Greenwich alliance and got to know each other through their Citizen Schools work. Supported by Greenwich organiser, Sebastien Chapleau and Schools Organiser, Jamie Audsley, plans were developed to integrate curriculum projects and to enable students from the three schools to come together to develop better relationships. Possible areas for future action involving all three schools include:street safety; school transport and improving the local environement. Watch this space for change in Greenwich!

Monday, 8 March 2010

Migration Conundrum: new Website Coming Soon!

It's confirmed - the Migration Conundrum will have a brand new sparkling website up and running within the month.

I met on Friday with Elliot Fox who is co-ordinating our online efforts to confirm arrangements for constructing a useful site to get the message out about the Migration Conundrum and what it's trying to do, in the run up to our official launch during Refugee Week 2010 in June.

Big thanks to Elliot for taking this work on. We'll also be advertising for a developer post soon to take the site into the educational stratosphere! Watch this space for more!

Wednesday, 3 March 2010

Barking Abbey Team Gets Super-Strategic!

With the support of four Citizenship teachers, the team at Barking Abbey now meet regularly on Mondays after school and have selected their key issue and idea to focus on: street safety and getting a more visible police presence on the streets.

Students and staff have established their core strategy to make this happen - by mapping community safety hotspots, reaching out and connecting to community allies, building their power together by researching which areas are most in need of a presence, developing their arguments and negotiating with the police to make it happen.

Students are busy creating surveys to begin this process next week.  They're a great team and are excited about building their power by reaching out to other year groups, parents and wider into the community.

Migration Dream Team Get Down to Business!

The Migration Conundrum - a toolkit for teachers to facilitate compelling learning about the controversial issue of migration, and then to take action around it - is moving forward and will be launched in June during Refugee Week, thanks to the work of our specialist 'Migration Conundrum Dream Team'.

A core group of teachers, migrants, consultants, students and London Citizens staff, the dream team have now got strategic, establishing a plan to get EVERY SCHOOL IN THE UK freely accessing the learning the Migration Conundrum Offers, working with Local Education Authorities other targeted power players.

March is the month of creativity - every member of the team is creating real life case studies and many are producing compelling learning activities to extend and enrich students learning.   If you want to contribute either a case study or learning activity, please contact Carina Crawford-Rolt:

Friday, 26 February 2010

70 Students apply to be London Citizens MONEY MENTORS!

A whopping 70 undergraduate students from local universities have applied to be London Citizens Money Mentors!

These Money Mentors will be trained by the Citizen Schools team, Credit Action and Money Saving as peer facilitators to deliver our Money Mentors financial literacy programme to 4,000 young people in schools across London over four weeks this June and July.

With Jessica Jones, Money Mentors co-ordinator, and Ben Hammond, Citizen Schools Co-ordinator having shortlisted candidates today, the next step is interviews next Thursday.   Jess and Ben were bowled over by the quality of the candidates applying - almost all to the letter showing experience of community action, work with young people and an interest in economic education...

An action shot of Jess Jones, Money Mentors co-ordinator, shortlisting Money Mentors applicants.