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.


2 July 2023

Memorial Assembly for Neil Jameson - that is what he would have loved us to do!

In over 30 years of community organising, Neil Jameson organised and oversaw many assemblies. He enjoyed the drama, the razzmatazz, the stories, the leadership development and everything else assemblies can offer. He wasn’t often in the spotlight, rather working behind the curtains.

On Friday 30th June 2023 family, friends and colleagues gathered for Neil Jameson Memorial Assembly, which was fitting, beautiful and well organised. Assembly in the way Citizens UK has done it over decades. Co-chairs along with a timekeeper (grand child of Neil) with a bell, running the assembly in the normal Citizens way. Testimonies by inter-generational community leaders, music by different choirs among which are primary school students from St. Anthony’s Catholic Prime School. Moving and deeply relatable music entitled ‘ Something Inside So Strong’, ‘Bread and Roses’, ‘Forever Young’, and ‘Can You Feel The Love Tonight?’

Whether it was a solo music moment or mass choir involving everyone, it was deeply moving and connecting. It is undoubtedly clear that a lot has been put into organising the event to make it flawless.

In between everything else during the memorial assembly, we had reflections by veteran community leaders about the many achievements of Neil, from Living Wage to Refugees Welcome, Importance of local institutions to housing, and all the humour and mischief of Neil to get business done. Getting what you want in an organised and convincing way.

The following video is great if you missed the event,


For Neil, assemblies had great place deep in his heart. That is what I for sure know as I have been with him in many assemblies and major actions both in the UK and abroad. Hence having an assembly for  Neil’s memorial is the best gift someone can give. Thanking all involved in organising such a great assembly. You made it in an organised way.

Taken for memorial book

Something Inside So Strong

The higher you build your barriers

The taller I become.

The further you take my rights away

The faster I will run.

You can deny me,

You can decide to turn your face away.

No matter cause there’s

More on the memorial with additional link to photos by Chris Jepson below.



Lots of great reactions from colleagues, friends, family and all who knew Neil and his remarkable achievements. Here are a few of them.



18 June 2023

Compassion is what matters most – the time is now


As our TV screens, newspapers and social media outlets bring more and more atrocious news about the worsening refugee crisis, fellow humans drowning in oceans, seas, and channels, there is a natural call for us to do the decent thing. All we need is compassion and avail more and more safe routes. All we need is to question why this is happening and how we can support fellow humans.  After all these people are the most vulnerable in our collective human family and deserve our love, empathy, and care as they have already been through lots of hardships.

The desperation of people on the move and their travels through extremely perilous situations is a stark reminder that people will take any risk to go out of the situation they are in unless we have safe and legal routes to help them. One of my  friends often says, “You won’t leave home unless home has the mouth of a shark.” People take risks than falling into the mouths of sharks. People run away to go into the unknown over the known danger. It is very natural to run for safety. Because hope is what almost everybody has. Hoping for better days and life despite all the challenges and sufferings of the day and on the way.

I have read and heard many good initiatives and ideas on what could and should be done to address the crisis. The need for being proactive and collaborative. The need for addressing our collective human responsibilities and moral obligations in the sense of urgency and with more plans in the long run. As someone who has travelled a lot across the United Kingdom and around the world, I know that there are many great people in this country and globally who are doing everything possible to support fellow humans. I know many people who are on the right side of history. I wholeheartedly believe the good outweighs the challenges.

It is time to rethink. Time to revisit our systems. Time to check as to when all the safe and legal routes would be open to those who need them most. How we can widen the welcome and meet expectations. How can we  make sure people seeking protection are given the protection they deserve? How can we make sure those stuck in the immigration system are properly dealt with and compassionately? In short how can we make the system fit for purpose and more compassionate?

As we celebrate Refugee Week 2023, I want to join many others in  calling for more compassion and positive actions. I want us to find ways to bring wider civil society, businesses, and others on board so that we all contribute to the Refugees Welcome work. To make the  Community Sponsorship of Refugees scheme more accessible and attractive to existing and potential  community sponsors by introducing a system that is more appealing and addressing many good interests. The time is now to have a compassionate approach to the worsening crises. More deeds than words!

26 April 2023

As we mourn the departure of Neil Jameson, we cherish his legacy graciously


Many people dream of doing good as in doing good is much satisfaction and fulfilment. Few are lucky enough to do good through out their lives and see their wishes, aspirations and dreams come true. Neil Jameson was undoubtedly one of the very few who achieved a lot, yet who remained in the shadows of doing good as he didn’t enjoy the spotlight.

The unexpected death of Neil Jameson,  a husband, a father, a grandfather, a great friend to many, and more than any thing else one of the finest community organisers in the world, is deeply shocking and heart-breaking.  Today we mourn the death of  one of the towering figures of Community Organising in the UK, who had the audacity to challenge the state and the market through civic activism using community organising. For Neil, there should be a place for civil society around the table. For Neil, civil society need to organise intentionally and build its power to sit around the table. For Neil, power is what it takes to make a difference. For Neil, civil society has to organise around self interest and win together. Yes for Neil, celebrating small wins whilst keeping organising for bigger wins was more than important.

To share a reaction

My encounter with Neil goes back to 2007. Then I was still stuck in the immigration system and life in a limbo. London Citizens was leading a  campaign called ‘Strangers into Citizens’; and Neil was at the helm of that campaign. That campaign was more than important for me and 1000s of others. I remember talking to Neil about the campaign and how long it could take to see the fruits. Neil said, “It could take a while to win this campaign, but it is worth going for”. That brought hopes and better feelings. When I joined my first community organising training in March 2008, there was a lot for me and my cohort to process. Lots of new ideas. All based on building relationship and consequently building relational power.

Following the training, I joined the ‘Strangers into citizens’ campaign both in London and Cardiff and the campaign paid off, as most of those stuck in the system got their Indefinite Leave to Remain and became citizens afterwards. They started to contribute to society, as they also started to rebuild their lives. I still remember the words of Neil, “It could take a while, but it is worth fighting”.

After I joined Citizens UK as a fully time community organiser, there was a lot to learn from Neil and colleagues. For Neil, each and everyone of us had important duties in shaping the role of civil society. For Neil, we had something to contribute whilst working in the ‘world as it is’ and trying our best to take the ‘world to as it should be’.

As good as a seasoned and well-informed community organiser Neil was, he also took time to invest in us and many others in many sessions he led. One of my favourite sessions, especially during our residential training was ‘ the scheduling’ session, where Neil would talk about how best we should use our time whilst we are still able. He would also raise about death and the uncomfortable truth.

For Neil, action is what matters. He wants us to be in action. He would be there to support, to teach,  to evaluate and reorganise and come back. With Neils leadership and dedication, we are blessed to have a great community organising in Citizens UK. With Neil’s unwavering organising for fair and decent pay, we have the Living Wage Foundation, which has its seed in the Citizens UK. With Neil’s tireless campaign and organising to build a more welcoming United Kingdom, we have Safe PassageSponsor Refugees and UK Welcome Refugees.

Although Neil has departed, his legacies live with us. In every action we take, be it for a better pay, better social care, refugees welcome or stronger and organised civil society, we have Neil in our thoughts.

As we say goodbye to a gentle giant, we send our love and gratitude to Neil’s family and all those affected by this tragic news.

Neil, May you Rest In Peace and Rise in Glory!

to share another reaction

9 April 2023

Nonviolence is the only better option, as violence invites violence


“I would like to be known as a person who is concerned about freedom and equality and justice and prosperity for all people”- Rosa Parks

We have had numerous nonviolent struggles around the world that not only were successful, but also avoided cycle of violence. Hence nonviolence is the only better option, no matter what the challenge might be. It may take time to get what we want, but worth the wait than to resort to violence. All needed is patience, perseverance, clear strategy and visionary leadership.

When we resort to nonviolence, every life matters for us. Even the lives of those we do not agree with. That is the bottom line and a great benchmark for organising ourselves to wage nonviolent struggles. As we design our strategy for our nonviolent struggles, the first and most important question that comes is, ‘would our struggle put the lives of others at risk?’ If so, we need to rethink and rethink again to avoid endangering the lives of others.

When we hear stories like that of Rosa Perks, who had the courage to refuse giving up her seat to a white passenger on the bus she was travelling on 1st December 1955, we would ask what happened next? Why did she do it and what was the outcome? We know that despite her action and subsequent arrest, it took coordinated actions and nonviolent struggles to stop the segregation. It took 13 months of bus boycott and sacrifice until the U.S. Supreme Court ruling that segregation on public buses is unconstitutional

If we take the suffragette movements, they took a great deal of organising and nonviolent struggles to succeed. Despite the resistance these movements faced, those who led the movements did not resort to violence and didn’t endanger lives of others. We did in fact see some direct actions, including actions on properties, but that didn’t put lives of others at risk.

In the 21st century, however, we have seen more and more violence; and groups with differing views resorting to force and violence to fulfill their demands. The violence we have seen around the world have been very deadly, costly and have brought cycle of violence and mistrust. We cannot afford to be in such a cycle of violence; and hence have to reorganise ourselves in a nonviolent way as the only option for achieving what we want to achieve. We need to learn from our successes, work on our shortcomings and mistakes, and revisit our strategies to make our struggles fit for purpose, inclusive and contemporary. Tribalism, ethnic politics, the attitude of ‘I and my group are better’ would not take us any where; as it is an outdated thinking. It would not also help us to achieve our objectives as collective humans with unique personalities that are interdependent. Equally if we are stuck in the victimhood mentality, it is vital to have a rethink. After all, we are only once in this world and have a lot to work together as collective humans, with a world big enough for all of us to live in unanimity. If we are still in the thinking of ‘I and my’ instead of ‘we and us’ attitude, we need to rework on our paradigm without delay.

In nonviolent movements, we need to see who can be with us and strengthen our allies’ base. We need to be clear be on why our allies should be with us as we wage our struggles in a nonviolent way. What does it mean for them and consequently for all of us? Thinking about humanity in general, where everyone of us have a part and contributions to make. In our nonviolent struggles, the winners should be all of us; nothing less. Hence as we sit down to strategize, we have to think on ‘Why’ our nonviolent struggles are important. It should be noticeably clear on where we want to go together and how we would go there.

As we can see from Marin Luther King’s six principles for nonviolent struggles, we get even more enlightened on why we should resort to this form of struggles today more than ever. Here are MLK’s 6 principles on nonviolence:-

“Nonviolence is a way of life for courageous people; nonviolence seeks to win friendships and understanding; nonviolence seeks to defeat injustice or evil, not people; nonviolence holds that unearned, voluntary suffering for a just cause can educate and transform people and societies; nonviolence chooses love instead of hate; and nonviolence believes that the universe is on the side of justice.”

Powerful message from MLK. Nonviolence is the only option to win and thrive together.


21 March 2023

Memorable days in Nepal, a country in between mountains

A few months ago I had an email from Katherine Hughes-Fraitekh, Co-Founder and Director of Solidarity 2020 and Beyond about an event that was going to take place in Kathmandu, Nepal. As a long-standing member of the Solidarity network, the intended event was something that I would take highly. By then, I didn’t know if I could get the time to join such a great initiative in person. After some negotiations with relevant people in the UK, I not only confirmed my attendance, but also asked how I could be of use during my days in a country surrounded by the Himalayan mountains, including Mount Everest, which is the highest of Himalayas and also the highest on earth.

After lots of virtual meetings, debates and meticulous planning, the time to fly to Kathmandu, capital of Nepal was nearing. 80 participants from about 45 countries had confirmed their attendance. A welcome group formed by one for the veteran civic leaders in Nepal, our brother Ram Bhandari, was finalising its preparations to welcome its esteemed guests. Session leaders, facilitators and convenors had started to finalise their preparations. The Solidarity 2020 and Beyond team bringing the many dots together. ‘Story of us’ in action!

For me, in addition to preparing for the sessions I was going to facilitate and lead, doing research about Nepal was important. The people, culture, food, places to visit and folks to build relationships with. In doing so, I Knew the time difference between the UK and Nepal is 5:45 hours. Nepal is ahead. Unique time difference! I also knew Nepal was never colonised and that it is a landlocked country fully surrounded by India and China. Yet it has it unique nature.

As folks from around the world started to update us about their journeys and at times challenges departing from airports, we got even more excited to hear the stories in person and meet fellow comrades. Many had paid sacrifices to be at the event. Some had travelled on camels; others on buses, trains and all sorts of treacherous journeys to get to the nearest airports. Courage is what it takes to reach the intended destination. Kudos to all who did it🙌🏿

As soon as we all gathered in Kathmandu, the city of wooden temple, we were accorded kind welcome, and the business kicked off. Sharing and learning! Many great sessions through out the 5 days together. Great organising; great leadership development and commitment to share. At times debates and constructive alternatives. We also took time to celebrate the work we have done together. Recognise colleagues, visit places and enjoy cultural food and music. Among the most exceptional moments was the dinner at local traditional restaurant called Bhojan Griha, where we were served with mouth watering food, traditional drinks and uplifting and enjoyable music. Below is a short video about this great event.

We also had some amazing moments in between. One of the most heart warming moments was led by people with sight loss and visual impairment.

Also another wonderful opportunity to visit Monkey Temple, which is utterly gorgeous and worth visiting when one is Nepal.

Following 5 days of many workshops, talks, discussions, public actions and deliberations, we had the Kathmandu 2023 Declaration, which was endorsed by all the participants. And yes, it was then the turn of Arnab Chakraborty and his team to take us to the last event of the conference. An opportunity to celebrate togetherness. An opportunity to reaffirm our solidarity and commit to work together as children of the world.

Special thanks to Katherine and the amazing team for working round the clock to see this through. Thanks also to individuals and organisations who sponsored this great initiative. Thanks to all who made it to Kathmandu from around the world. Together we will make our world a better place to live in. God willing we will meet again. As our friend Sungu Oyoo often says, “it is Africa’s time.” I endorse it and hope to see our next solidarity convening in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Till then we will keep our watchful eyes open and deliver our best as organised global citizens.

After all, we are the world!

11 March 2023

Nonviolence is the way - another opportunity to learn and share

 “We adopt the means of nonviolence because our end is a community at peace with itself. We will try to persuade with our words, but if our words fail, we will try to persuade with our acts.”- Martin Luther King

In June 2016 about 50 of us from around the world gathered in Boston, USA, for an  Advanced Study of Nonviolent Conflict, which took place at Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy. The fellowship sponsored by ICNC was successful by many standards. It not only brought together activists, campaigners, community organisers and civic leaders from across the world, but also availed the tools necessary to organise civic activism in a nonviolent way and paved ways for the participants to work together and support one another in any way possible. Some of us met in between in different countries and continents including in the US, Asia, Europe and Africa which helped us to reconnect and strategize together as we all aspire to see a better world for all of us and work to achieve that.

I still remember the powerful message from Rev Dr. James Lawson, one of the most prominent civil rights movement leaders in the US who worked along with Martin Luther King. As he delivered his lecture in an engaging and thought-provoking way, Rev Lawson said,  “You may not see change in your generation, but you must make sure you sow the seeds of change so that the next generation or the generation after may benefit from.” That message has stayed with me and many others ever since.

Here is a short video of his lecture

As we prepare to gather for the Solidarity 2020 and Beyond International Peace and Leadership Conference that will take place in Kathmandu, Nepal, there is excitement in most of us at this will be an opportunity to reconnect,  hear stories of success and challenges whilst sharing and learning from one another. Kudos to the organizers of the forthcoming conference, in particular the tireless Katherine Hughes-Fraitekh, who is always on the move to share her years of learning and experiences. Keep it going!

What would make the forthcoming conference different is that it will mostly be led by moderators, convenors and facilitators that are part of the movement and come as participants. Great opportunity to bring stories to inspire and challenge to act whilst teaching tools that help to wage struggles for issues that matter most in a nonviolent way.

A better, tolerant, inclusive and peaceful world is possible. It takes us all to achieve that.

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...