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Reading community alliance will champion local change 

Over 160 people representing 24 local organisations have celebrated the launch of Reading Citizens, a community alliance coming together to influence change in their local area.  

The alliance have identified three key priorities for change in Reading – firstly, migration justice for refugees and asylum seekers; secondly, safer streets, and thirdly; increasing voter registration to support local and national democracy.  

The Right Revd Olivia Graham, Bishop of Reading, opened the evening, praising the hard work, commitment, and energy of everyone involved to bring the alliance to this point. Stories and testimonies were shared from people affected by real issues in the community, including moving accounts from asylum seekers about the poor conditions they were experiencing in hotels. In particular, a lady who had been living in a hotel for two years expressed anger and sadness over the provision of unhealthy food that is damaging her health.  

The representative of the local Refugee Support Group invited people to write a Christmas card to the local asylum hotel leader, asking them for a meeting to discuss these concerns, and 150 Christmas cards were ready to send by the end of the evening. Many people also donned white badges in support of White Ribbon Day, to mark a campaign for safer streets in Reading.  

Hannah Ling, Social Justice Adviser for the Diocese of Oxford, said: “Alongside the hard work of members, I'm delighted that the Diocese of Oxford's seed funding has helped make this happen, and so pleased the churches in Reading Deanery are putting their faith into action as a founding member. May these strong foundations continue to be built upon, and more change be won for stronger and fairer communities in Reading. We're more powerful together!” 

Those present included leaders from Thames Valley Police, Wokingham Borough Council and Reading Borough Council, who all committed to support the work of the alliance and participate in conversations in the coming months.  

Towards the end of the meeting, Tanya Sazonova, the diocesan Homes for Ukraine worker, invited everyone to stand with her in solidarity with refugees, to which the room responded with enthusiasm.  

The founding members of the Reading Citizens alliance are: 

  • University of Reading 
  • Reading Deanery 
  • Alliance for Cohesion and Racial Equality 
  • Reading and Basingstoke Methodist Circuit 
  • Reading Student Union 
  • Refugee Support Group 
  • Utulivu Women’s Support Group 

Find out more about our partnership with Citizens UK, and community organising, on our social justice pages

Page last updated: Monday 4th December 2023 2:59 PM
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