Over the past year everyone here at Shpresa Programme has worked intensively to ensure our services were as relational digitally as they were in person. Our Listening Campaign of 2021 became more important to us than it was before.
Shpresa Programme’s work is driven live experiences, which is what enriches our work. As an active member of CITIZENS UK we made sure that the voices of our members were heard beyond our community that they had the opportunities to be at the driving seat of everything we do.
We did not want this year's Mayoral Assembly to be just another Zoom call. We wanted it to be an experience that inspired and made people feel less alone, heard, and powerful.
Our aimed for this event was to create a similar buzz that it previously has as every year the members of Shpresa Programme (in proportion to the number of the organization members) have had a very high attendance. As always, our leaders challenged themselves and never let this opportunity go to waste. Every year, they increased attendance numbers by 50%. This year, more than ever, we wanted this event to energise our staff, volunteers, and members, for them to have their say on the decisions made for the next 5 years, for us to see our Community flourish. We wanted our members to know that they have a voice, that their lived experiences matter, and their initiative to speak up is powerful enough to make the headlines and their needs be part of the candidates’ manifestos and promises.
The team members of Shpresa Programme took lead on their groups to create better and healthier relationships with our members & organisers before the Mayoral Assembly kicked off.
- Temporary accommodations & their living standards
- Welcoming Migrants
- Living Wage
These were the main issues that collectively mattered to the our members and were part of the CITIZENS UK Mayoral Assembly agenda.
On the 28th of April, the turn out in the Mayoral Assembly was truly inspiring: over 160 participants from Shpresa Programme turned the screen red & black (the colours of our flag) in the midst of over 5400 overall participants. A whopping 5400+ of us joined together across the city to raise our voices for a manifesto for change to Sadiq Khan and Shaun Bailey – and secured commitments proving that organised and dedicated people can build power to move ‘The World as it Is’ closer to ‘The World as it Should Be’!
It was a wonderful Mayoral Accountability Assembly. It brought us inspiration, energy, and the hope we expected it to bring. There were many people from our organisation who contributed in so many ways for this moment – working hard over the last two years.
Citizens UK wrote:
“We know 90% of an action is turnout, and we smashed our turnout target of 4000 — let’s particularly highlight Connaught School for Girls (305 attendees), King’s College London (170), Shpresa Programme (152), East London Mosque (115), Croydon North Deanery (106), English for Action (106), QMUL (105), Darul Ummah (103) and Wimbledon College (93) who had so many people there! But whether you brought 100 people or 2, these campaign victories belong to you.”
Here are just some of the commitments we won last night:
- Commitment for a fully staffed ESOL website, meaning that thousands of migrants will find it easier to learn English and be included in wider society.
- Agreement to work with us on making London a Living Wage city.
- Agreement for the City Hall to accredit as a Living Hours employer, which means leadership to reduce zero-hour contracts throughout London;
- Commitment to work on stretching quality standards for temporary accommodation – this wasn’t on either candidates’ agenda before we raised this issue, and we especially recognise Sara from Shpresa for her moving testimony.
We celebrate all our wins but the work does not stop here! In the words of last night’s co-chair, Claudia Lopez, St Gabriel’s College, South London Citizens:
“Democracy was never meant to be a one-off thing, every couple of years. No, democracy is a Greek word which literally means ‘power of the people’. There has never been a better time to renew our commitment to democracy in its true, fullest sense. We invite all of you to be a part of this change. It’s only together we can!”
Shpresa now is recruiting leaders who want to get more involved in organising with us and London Citizens, speaking to a leaders/staff to join workshops and trainings!
Together We Can!