Hello – and a happy new year!
This is the first monthly summary of local actions by Walthamstow Labour Party members, in partnership with Movement for Change. It is a brief update on what’s currently taking place and gives you the information you need to get involved.
If I have not met you individually about actions/ideas which interest you, and you’d like to get involved in one of the actions listed below, please email me at email@example.com.
Introducing community organising
Are you keen to find out more about the principles which underlie community organising? Interested in meeting other local Labour members and supporters who want to take community-based action?
Movement for Change runs introductory sessions on community organising – and we’re delivering one in Walthamstow this month:
Sunday 22nd January
11:00 to 13:30 (with tea-break)
Walthamstow Labour Party office, Orford Road, E17
Places are limited but there are currently a few spaces left. To sign up, please email me ASAP.
I’ve been working as a community organiser for Walthamstow CLP 1 day per week for the past 6 months. In that time, I’ve meet individually with 60+ members, including new members, established members, officers and several local councillors. I’ve also met members through the GC and at the various branch meetings. In addition, I’ve met individually and collectively with dozens of community activists, from pastors to teachers, youth workers to students, who are keen to explore ways in which they can work with local Labour members on issues of common interest.
Over the next 3 months, small social meetings of members and supporters are taking place on a ward basis. The idea is to give you the chance to meet informally with people who may share common interests and who live in the same neighbourhood. This is planned initially for Hoe Street ward (where our Labour councillors are Mark Rusling, Saima Mahmud and Ahsan Khan) – to get involved there, or to express an interest in an informal meeting with other members in your ward, please get in touch.
Voter registration – the ‘Missing Millions’
Voter registration is an increasingly urgent problem. In several Waltham Forest wards, more than 10% of households (with an average of 1.9 people per household) are unregistered.
As you may know, Walthamstow CLP is leading the way in delivering a London-wide voter registration drive. The model for the project is to build relationships between Labour members and local community institutions (such as schools, churches, mosques and youth groups) to work with them to register their members. It is a non-party political campaign on which we can find common cause with other local organisations, whilst also building relationships that allow us to find (and take action on) other issues of common concern.
So far, Walthamstow Labour members are working in partnership with 5 churches. We will be starting work with 1 local school and 2 local community organisations in the next few weeks.
This is an ongoing project for us, given that the Government is changing the law on voter registration which will make the need to promote individual registration far more pressing. There is also the context of the London Mayoral election in May 2012 – when every vote will count. With some parts of Walthamstow having as many as 1 in 10 unregistered households, now is the time to act. Contact me to help the campaign!
The cost of poverty – Health
Angry about the Government’s NHS reforms and want to take local action? Keen to learn more about poverty and health through taking practical action?
A small group of local Labour members are planning to organise a series of local actions targeting “the health costs of poverty”. The aim is to build a broad coalition of support to plan creatively what we can do together – from councillors (such as Cllr Clare Coghill in High Street ward), to allotment associations, to nurses, dieticians and other people who have a passion for health. This work is in its early stages – members who are keen to find out more should get in touch with me.
The cost of poverty – Education
Under pressure from Jamie Oliver’s brilliant national campaign, the last Labour Government put in place strict guidelines for food and nutrition standards in schools. Now central government funding to Local Authorities for school meals is under threat. Will Gove’s policy direction lead to the return of turkey twizzlers in our local schools?
I’ve met with both Labour members and other local residents who are keen to take local action, to campaign for a change to the Government’s approach. Many were involved in the local campaign for more school places which Stella Creasy MP ran in late 2011. That resulted in more than one-quarter of all responses to the national consultation coming from Walthamstow residents, putting significant pressure on Gove to deliver for our area.
A group of Labour members and other local residents plan to meet within the month, to discuss their ideas on school meals and decide on actions we will take together to mount a local campaign over the coming year. It’s in its early stages, so let me know if you want to take action, or be kept informed.
The Riots Panel – a community response
In October 2011, a group of Labour members, along with Cllrs Paul Douglas and Karen Bellamy, came together to discuss their views on the ‘civil disturbances’ which took place in London over the summer. They decided that, in order for Walthamstow’s voice to be heard, they would meet 1-2-1 with local residents from institutions with whom they had links already, in order to facilitate a community-submission to the Government’s official Riots Panel Inquiry (led by Baroness Sherlock).
Having met with local residents in their streets, in churches, schools and elsewhere, the group came back together to draft and submit their report. A video collated by our CLP Youth Officer, Qaseem Ahmed, was also submitted. Local member Agnes Hoctor, who had not previously taken action as a local Labour Party member, wrote an article about her involvement, which you can also read by hitting the “Walthamstow” tag on this website.
As a result, the Panel contacted Walthamstow CLP to state that before submitting its final report in March 2012, it intends to meet with us in Walthamstow, to hear further community evidence. I am awaiting confirmation of the date for that meeting. In order to ensure that the good work of Cllr Chris Robbins and Waltham Forest Council is reflected, I hope to work with their new Group organiser, Jack Kiffin, once a meeting date is confirmed.
If you’d like to be involved in helping other members and local residents to organise evidence for this meeting, please let me know.
Membership of Movement for Change
Movement for Change is a membership organisation. Members get access to exclusive training materials developed for Labour Party community campaigning, as well as the opportunity to attend advanced residential training in community organising. Our first residential weekend is 8-11 March 2011. To join Movement for Change and find out more about our wider training, please visit our website www.movementforchange.org.uk.
Got an idea for community action in Walthamstow that you’re keen to explore? Movement for Change works with local Labour Party members to make community campaigning a reality. My role is to help you make it happen, working in relationship with other Labour members (and the wider community) on issues of shared interest. If you want to meet and talk it through, then please get in touch.
With best wishes for January,
Movement for Change
07983 610 095