Stepney Salvation Army Picks up the London Citizens Community of the Year Award

published on 4 Feb 2014

In the middle of the Christmas rush, Stepney Salvation Army church ministers, Captains Kerry and Nick Coke, attended the London Citizens annual general meeting and awards ceremony, where they picked up the London Citizens Community of the Year award. The corps received the award for their overall commitment to the campaign work of Citizens UK.

Citizens UK brings together institutions representing faith groups, universities, colleges, schools, trade unions and community groups for the common good of communities. The London Citizen group is the largest independent community alliance in the UK, comprising a number of local chapters, and presented the award to Stepney Salvation Army.

Stepney Salvation Army attracted people to their assemblies - large events of up to 1,000 people where they hold people in power to account - and have a number of church members leading campaigns. The church has developed a strong relationship with the Mayor of Tower Hamlets (Councillor Lutfur Rahman) and with neighbouring organisations, such as Darul Ummah Mosque and Queen Mary University, to work for the common good.

Citizens UK said of Stepney Corps: "This member community has consistently turned out 75 per cent of its members to actions and assemblies. They are committed to building relationships with neighbouring institutions, including Queen Mary University and Darul Ummah mosque. Their vision is to see social change in Stepney, particularly on the Ocean Estate where they are developing key relationships with residents. Led by a visionary leader (Nick Coke) with a strong political will, this member community has an appetite for action and has been involved in negotiations with the Mayor of Tower Hamlets, and have contributed significantly to the Living Wage and City Safe campaigns. Leaders from this institution include Maria Cheeseman and Jan Harris who played key roles in the Olympics jobs campaign and Nick Fearn, who was involved in the campaign for a Community Land Trust at St Clements."’

Nick Fearn has been part of the team that has set up the community land trust - an affordable housing scheme - over the past four years, taking part in everything from lobbying the Greater London Authority to working with developers. The homes planned over the past four years will go on sale next year at half the market price to local people - genuinely affordable housing. It is the first urban community land trust in the UK.

Jan Harris led the campaign to ensure Olympic jobs went to local people. She led a team, including Maria Cheeseman, that enabled 1,200 people in East London boroughs to obtain a living wage job during the London Olympics. This involved hosting job fairs and coaching people through the interview process.

Captain Nick Coke is pictured with the Stepney Salvation Army social justice team (from left): Maria Cheeseman, Nick Fearn, Jan Harris and Darius Pantea.