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.

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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!

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