2 July 2024

Time to Get Out and Vote – Democracy in Action


United Kingdom goes to the polls on July 4th. 

Since the election was called by British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, I have had the opportunity to travel to some parts of the United Kingdom to discuss with folks about the election, their expectations and what could be done to support those who have not registered to vote. I also worked on voter registration drive in places in West Midlands and North West England.  As there are many people who are excited about the opportunity the election could bring, there are still others who told me they may not even vote.

One of my experiences is worth sharing. Whilst speaking to somebody, the person said they wouldn’t vote. I asked why they were not going to vote. They said, ‘these leaders are the same; the parties are the same; they are all the same; hence I’m not voting.’ My follow up question was, ‘when was the last time you voted?’ They replied, “it has been a while since I voted.”  I thus politely said, ‘are you all the same then?’ ‘Oh no,’ they said.  That conversation was interesting on many grounds. I hope the person will vote for what they believe in; as I do.

Coming back to the election, the ball is now in the hands of the British public and all those who are eligible to vote and decide who should lead them for the coming 5 years. Vital to participate in the election. There is no need for apathy. Apathy to participate in local democracy is not the way forward. If we want to see our voices heard; if we want to see strong civil societies that can hold the state and the market to account; if we want to see the issues we campaign for to be implemented; then it is important to get out and vote. It is important to remember that we can only win through actions. Our actions on the election day is mostly associated with our votes. Our anger could only be addressed through actions. Our hopes could only be a reality through actions.  The action we need to take is to get out and vote on the election day; and also encourage others to vote. 

Worthwhile to remember that many people around the world die to get the right to vote. Many others suffer in the hands of brutal dictators and their agents because they want to have a say in their countries’ affairs. We may not like politics but our lives are affected by politics. Hence there is a need to engage actively in local democracy and vote for what matters for us. If we don’t engage locally and use our democratic rights, we must accept what others have voted for. By the end of the day, the voice of the majority rules even if we do not agree.

Avoid apathy and get out and vote! Your Vote is Your Voice! We may not get what we vote for, but it is our chance to exercise our democratic rights. 

July 4th is the day!

9 December 2023

The Global Refugee Forum – time for meaningful participation of Refugees


As the Global Refugee Forum takes place between 13 - 15 December 2023 in Switzerland, it is vital that we have meaningful participation of refugees that can shape the work and the next steps following the forum. We need to see  practical next steps and delivery of pledges now more than ever.

The Global Refugee Crisis is getting worse by the hour. Lots of people forced to leave their homes searching for homes and safety. Many more displaced internally across the globe. By mid 2023, we had 110 Million forcibly displaced people worldwide, out of which 36.4 Million are refugees. There are also 62.5 million internally displaced people that need support now more than ever.

The persecution of people for their religion, race, political opinions, sexual orientation and other reasons and their forced displacement from their homes continues at an alarming rate. It is extremely heartbreaking and deeply worrying to see fellow humans denied the right to home and decent life at this day and age.

According to the UNHCR 69% of refugees live in countries neighbouring their countries of origin. These countries need to be given support to deliver better welcome.

‪As the International Community gathers in Geneva for the Global Refugee Forum, we need to see more action than words. We need leaders ready to go beyond the usual good words and soundbites. We need to see honest conversations and solutions to the crises with meaningful participation of refugees that take part in the forum. The Global Refugee Forum should not be only a talking show. We need to walk the talk and do that now more than ever. We have had many forums, assemblies, conferences, summits, workshops and seminars on how to address the worsening Global Refugee crises, yet the number of those needing protection keeps going up. Time to reimagine the way we address the challenges; and it is vital the voices of those with lived experiences are taken seriously, with open hearts and readiness to change the course. We often see promises that are unfulfilled and even forgotten. We need practical leadership from the international community, especially from the body responsible for refugees protection, UNHCR and its leaders.

Leaders in the Global North have to show leadership, willingness and practical commitment to address the worsening crises. What matters most is action and that action should be now!

There is also a need to have more legal routes for refugee resettlement around the world. The Community Sponsorship of Refugees scheme spearheaded by the Global Refugee Sponsorship Initiative has grown, but we need more and more countries to adapt the scheme and extend hands. The launch of Welcome Corps- Private Sponsorship of Refugees in the USA is an encouraging step and very promising. There are many promising Refugee Sponsorship Schemes in the UK, Europe, Australia and New Zealand. There are Community Sponsorship  initiatives and pilot works in countries like Argentina and Brazil. The Refugee Sponsorship Scheme in Canada has a lot to offer.  We need to see more and more countries adapting the scheme or finding their own.

We also need to see more complementary pathways to extend welcome and avail more legal and safe routes to support those stranded in camps around the world or those taking risks and going through treacherous journeys.

We need to also see more and more businesses, philanthropies, trusts, and foundations supporting the initiative so that we can scale up and deliver better and fast.

It is time for meaningful participation of refugees; time for action not words; time for reimagining the refugee welcome movement. The time is now!

4 December 2023

Congrats to TELCO - Organising as the work of Head, Hands and Heart!


On 29th November TELCO, Citizen UK’s oldest chapter celebrated its belated 25th anniversary in the presence of 1129 community leaders that came from 89 institutions from across East London.  The anniversary showcased stories, music, reflection and above all a great sense of togetherness. What stood out for me was the leadership development since it last celebrated its anniversary. New, diversified and energetic leaders taking charge and running the assembly and celebration with grace and power.

The TELCO anniversary reflected on the origins of the Living Wage campaign;  its growth ever since and why we should keep pushing boundaries to get as many organisations as possible and encourage them to pay the Real Living Wage. It also showed the stories of the citizens for sanctuary campaign, especially that of strangers into citizens campaign and why Citizens UK is still working round the clock to see an immigration system that can deliver welcome.

In short, what the assembly showed was what Marshall Ganz puts organising to be. Ganz often says,  “through organising, you develop leaders, you build organisations, and you also solve problems.”

TELCO, through its organising has achieved all what Ganz and other great organisers and scholars teach. TELCO has led the way and it is down to the other chapters of Citizens UK across the country to follow suit and keep the good fight going.

Once again, congrats to TELCO. Please keep sharing the good and inspirational stories of the many good fights TECLO and Citizens UK have fought over the past 3 decades to inspire many organisers and community leaders.

Well done to Emmanuel Gotora and team Citizens UK 🙌🏿

14 November 2023

Croydon Vision among the 2023 King’s Awards recipients


Croydon Vision, which celebrated its 100th anniversary on the 6th of October 2023, is among the recipients of the King's Award for Voluntary Service.

This is a very important milestone for a charity that has been working with Croydon’s blind and visually impaired community for the past 100 years. For the charity to receive King’s awards in the year it celebrated its centenary is a great coincidence.

Croydon vision, formerly known as Croydon Voluntary Association for the Blind, was formed in July 1923. In 1982, Queen Elizabeth visited Croydon Vision to support the services and show appreciation for the volunteers who are at the centre of the organisation. The charity has been transforming the lives of its members and has now about 900 members.

Susanette Mansour the Chief Executive of the charity said, “This award marks a significant milestone in our history. It symbolizes the collective efforts of our volunteers, staff, and supporters who tirelessly work towards a more inclusive and supportive environment for the visually impaired community.” She further said, “This award is more than just a plaque on the wall. It's an affirmation of our influence that extends beyond our immediate community. Being likened to an MBE for volunteer groups, it underscores the importance of our collective societal contributions.”. Susanette continued, “This award isn't just about Croydon Vision; it's a testament to the transformative impact volunteer groups can have on society. It serves as a call to consider the role we can individually and collectively play in creating supportive and strong communities through giving back. This milestone is a celebration of our community's strength, resilience, and generosity. It's a reminder that together, we can overcome challenges and create positive change.” In extending her thanks, Susanette further said, " To all Croydon Vision volunteers, supporters, and community - this award is as much yours as it is ours. Let’s continue to shine the light on inclusivity, understanding, and support, making our community a beacon of hope for all. Thank you for being an important part of our journey, and here's to more achievements together!”

Kwame Dartey, a member and volunteer since 2017, shares his journey, saying, "I've gained confidence knowing that I'm not alone with my disability and found a new purpose by contributing as a volunteer. This experience has enriched my life."

Similarly, Jim Smith, another long-time member and volunteer, expressed his appreciation for the organisation's growth and activities. He said, ''I have been here for about 10 years and witnessed remarkable transformations. Our leader Susanette’s brilliant helm has initiated a myriad of events, excursions and classes making Croydon Vision increasingly accessible. It's an organisation I love being a part of, spending 3-4 days a week here witnessing and contributing to the change.''

Finally, Christine Rose described volunteering at Croydon Vision as a "life saver" recommending others to share in the satisfaction of making a difference.

Full list of the 2023 Kings Awards for voluntary service is in the following link


6 November 2023

Walking with purpose together – Croydon Vision Delivering for us


On Friday the 6th of October, we brought together people from different walks of life for a Gala Dinner to celebrate the 100th anniversary of a historic organisation called Croydon Vision. Yes, a month ago, we were able to organise a flawless Gala Dinner that exceeded expectations by all standards. Reflecting on the Strong Past; rejoicing the Focused Present and laying foundations for an Ambitious Future, we were able to deliver together as Croydon Vision.

As I sit back and reflect on the day,  the days before 6th October, the weeks and months before that very historic moment, there is a lot to be proud of. The feeling of togetherness among the team, both staff and volunteers; the engagement with many friends and allies; the cooperation and partnership with partners and stakeholders, was all something to be proud of as a strong Croydon community.

When I first had conversation about the Gala Dinner with Susanette Mansour, the CEO of Croydon Vision, all I was thinking was how best we could deliver the event and excel together. How I could lead the preparation for a great celebration. The stories, testimonies, music, videos, food and business in an engaging way. After all, it was the celebration of 100 years together that needed our utmost attention as a team. It was celebration of the many good things that have happened over the past 100 years. The many wonderful leaders both staff and volunteers that contributed their level best over the past 100 years and those who have stepped in now to lead this organisation which is delivering for Croydon.

As we reflect on that wonderful day of celebrations with pride,  all we are thinking is how best we could take this small, but ambitious organisation to the next level. The organisation has a very bold plan that can transform lives of many. It is led by a very visionary CEO, who is walking with purpose to leave a long-lasting legacy. It has a team willing to push boundaries and deliver. All the organisation needs is to have a few good partners with vision and clear purpose to transform the lives of not only those coming to Croydon Vision, but also the lives of partners. Businesses and organisations with great social corporate responsibilities should use the opportunities at Croydon Vision to deliver their responsibilities and discharge themselves responsibly. Croydon Vision should raise £7.5M to deliver its ambitious plans;  and it is time for businesses to step in and deliver together.

Here is the message from Susanette Mansour, the CEO of Croydon Vision, which can help partners to have a clear understanding of what Croydon Vision aspires to achieve. Time to step in and deliver for Croydon’s blind and Visually Impaired community.

Together for a better Croydon and beyond.


Time to Get Out and Vote – Democracy in Action

  United Kingdom goes to the polls on July 4th.  Since the election was called by British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, I have had the opportu...