And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.
We are incredibly blessed at MV to have so many people who love and pursue justice.
Knowing very little about the Citizens UK movement, of which Greater Manchester Citizens (GMC) is part, I met up with Naomi, a member of MV who also sits on the leadership of GMC, so we could drink lemonade in the sunshine, but mainly so she could tell me all about it.
We are a group of organisations gathered from around the city (schools, charities, trade unions, mosques, churches etc.) who meet and work out the needs and priorities of our area when it comes to tackling injustice. Whose voices aren’t being heard? What isn’t fair that can be changed? How can we hold our leaders, the council, our mayor, our MP, to account on these issues? How can we make sure that this is a win for our city?
We currently focus on four main areas: Living Wage; Housing and Homelessness; Social Care; Hate Crime.
As we are well aware, homelessness is a huge problem for our city. Recently too we’ve been fighting for the living wage for the cleaners at our top football clubs and reform in the management of poorly run social housing. Hate crime covers a range of issues but recently Greater Manchester Citizens have played a big part in tackling misogyny, working with the police to make it recognised as a hate crime in the city for women who experience discrimination from up-skirting, cat-calling and other forms of abuse.
A key figure we work alongside in Greater Manchester is obviously our elected mayor, Andy Burnham who we got to know during our first engagement with GMC. It’s part of our role to hold him to account on the pre-election promises he made on our first four key areas, and we meet with him to do that, but we also want him to feel valued and loved. We took a gift and a card for him to the meeting and thanked him for everything he was already doing. There is such value in loving people and something we can definitely contribute as MV.
It is incredible that as a church we get to be part of a network and community which stands up for the city and fights for people who have no voice. It fits perfectly with Vineyard values, yes in terms of Kingdom impact and compassion, but also worship too as we see in Micah 6:8. We are dedicated to change and working together; sitting alongside others like us, making change happen.
One a final note regarding poverty in our city. The full impact of the recent changes in the benefits system is arguably yet to be fully felt, especially by the most vulnerable in our community. As a church we are committed to tackling child poverty, especially in the area in which God has placed us. The Institute for Fiscal Studies has forecast that 37% of children will live in poverty by 2022. That’s 5.2 million. This figure is already at 44.8% for the children in our local area, and is expected to sharply increase as the impacts of Universal Credit are fully felt on families. Through our relationships with the community, we know that our children are going hungry, not just during the holidays but they are coming to school hungry. Our relationships with people like Andy Burnham are going to be key as we fight this injustice in the coming years.
But let justice roll on like a river, righteousness like a never-failing stream.
A GMC meeting earlier this year was attended by 12 members of MV. It is so wonderful as a young church that we have a leader on the board of a movement like this, sitting alongside organisations like us who are making change and working for unity.
If you’d like to attend the next gathering or be part of GMC please find Naomi on a Sunday or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org for more details.