An assembly of organisations has been founded in Oxford to champion community issues. The Oxford Citizens assembly comprises churches, charities and action groups who have pledged to ‘make Oxford a better place for everyone’.
The launch began with all those attending being presented with a yellow hardhat to represent their role in the building the alliance between the founding members, which include the Diocese of Oxford, which provided the seed funding, St Mary’s and St John’s Church, Cowley, EMBS Community College and CMS Britain.
Hannah Ling, Social Justice Adviser at the Diocese of Oxford, said: “After five years of visioning and relationship-building across the city we are delighted to launch this assembly. Decisions are made by those who show up so it’s inspiring to see so many organisations come together for the good of Oxford.
“Oxford is often assumed to be wealthy but the advantages and benefits aren’t evenly distributed. After adjusting for housing costs, 28% of children in Oxford live below the poverty line*. Oxford Citizens gives us a new opportunity to be participants, not spectators, in creating change in Oxford.”
Those gathered agreed the first goal would be to encourage more business across the city to sign up to the Real Living Wage. Employment charity Aspire, the University of Oxford and the Living Wage Foundation joined the pledge to support this aim.
Oxford Citizens also plans to build a campaign around housing justice; something that matters to so many people in Oxford, including renters suffering from dangerous mould and local asylum seekers facing eviction from hotel accommodation.
Revd Dr Chris Dingwall-Jones, of Jesus College Oxford which is a member of Oxford Citizens, added: “It was a privilege to be present at the Founding Assembly of Oxford Citizens. There’s already such a strong community in East Oxford, and we look forward to seeing people empowered to represent their interests, particularly in the areas of housing Justice and the Living Wage.”
The Oxford Citizens assembly joins Thames Valley Citizens as one of 19 member-led Chapters in England and Wales.
The founding members of the assembly are:
- Diocese of Oxford
- EMBS Community College
- East Oxford Parent Power
- St Mary and St John’s Church, Cowley
- Thames Valley Immigration Alliance (they are new members of Thames Valley Citizens. In Oxford Citizens, Asylum Welcome is the active participants of this immigration alliance)
- Oxford Community Action
- Oxford Hub
- CMS Britain
Notes to Editor
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*Child poverty statistic for Oxford City Council area where 28.4% of children live below the poverty line (2021/22) – (equates to 8,274 children). For Cherwell Council area it’s 23.9% / 8300 children (includes Banbury). Source: End Child Poverty.