It's been another busy week for Greater Manchester Citizens with lots of meetings and spending some time learning from our fellow chapter in Birmingham. I enjoyed a nice week away last week in Morocco with my family, it was our first ever holiday abroad together as a family which was nice. It was good to relax and forget about everything, even if it was just for a week. It also gave me time to reflect on the short time i've been working with Citizens UK and recharge my batteries for the long year ahead, especially in the run up to our big assembly in May.
Our executive director Neil Jameson spent the day in Manchester on Wednesday where I arranged a number of meetings. It's really useful for someone from Citizens UK to constantly be coming up to Manchester to see the progress and help steer the chapter in the right direction. But we are very luck to have the man himself Neil come up and give his many years of experience.
The first meeting we had was with CEO of the British Muslim Heritage Centre - a key Muslim institution we wanted to sign up as they have a great link with the community in the city. After our initial meeting with the Chair, this was the next step. Fortunately the CEO had previously worked with Citizens in Birmingham and was very find of us, which was a massive help. By the end of the meeting we managed to convince them of the importance for them joining us as an institution and being helping to recruit others to join too.
As part of some other work that I have been involved in, I mentor school children in Primary and High schools in Greater Manchester for one of the Princes Charities called Mosaic. They work in deprived and ethnic minority communities and there could be lots of possible cross over for work in schools in the region. Their director was also up in Manchester so I arranged a meeting with Neil and Mosaic to talk about potential cross over and see how we can organise school children to to take more social action. It was a positive meeting and certainly in the schools that we recruit and Mosaic do mentoring in we can join forces to work with schools and get young people organised.
We also met with Manchester Student's union. I had previously met with one of the executive members and had a good 1:1 before asking to meeting with the rest of the team and the director. I am very keen on getting the SU signed up as one of founding institutions as they have thousand of students who can be organised to great effect but also can inspire the other SU's across the region to join too. They are due to make a decision next week so fingers crossed they join!
Finally I spent a couple of day in Birmingham learning from our friends Birmingham Citizens. As we are starting a new chapter in Manchester we can learn so much from other chapters that started off in similar situations. Birmingham Citizens was set up 3 years ago in similar fashion to Manchester and it was great to sit down with their community organiser to see how they went about recruiting institutions, setting the due fees and deciding the campaigns they want to work on. We managed to visit a couple of institutions that have been signed up and see up close the relationship between the organiser and the leaders. There was a lot to take in but it's always useful as a new organiser to 'run' with someone more experience to help guide you along the way.
Things are moving forward nicely and there are lots of meetings planned in the coming weeks so will keep the blog going!