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Hundreds of community leaders pledge to create an Ilford 'that makes us all proud'

PUBLISHED: 12:00 14 October 2019

Thirteen founding members of Ilford Citizens, including schools and churches, took to the stage to introduce themselves and outline their reasons for joining. Picture: Imogen Braddick

Thirteen founding members of Ilford Citizens, including schools and churches, took to the stage to introduce themselves and outline their reasons for joining. Picture: Imogen Braddick

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Hundreds of leaders joined together to mark the official launch of Ilford Citizens, a community and multi-faith initiative which aims to influence future regeneration of the town.

Ilford's youngest citizens took to the stage to showcase their hope for Ilford's future skyline. Picture: Imogen BraddickIlford's youngest citizens took to the stage to showcase their hope for Ilford's future skyline. Picture: Imogen Braddick

Described as "communities organising for power, social justice and the common good", Ilford Citizens, a micro-alliance of Citizens UK and other Redbridge-based organisations, aims to tackle issues of regeneration, homelessness, housing and crime, with an emphasis on community and social needs.

Mandy Chahal, from Sikh Support, and Fr Gareth Jones, vicar of St Mary's Church Ilford, co-chaired the founding assembly at City Gates Church on Thursday, October 10.

Gareth said: "Today is about the community of Ilford coming together to make sure we listen to the local community and work with those who can make change."

Nearly 300 people, including Redbridge Council leaders and a number of schools, have pledged to work together.

The boss of North East London Foundation Trust was also in attendance and pledged to help reach out to rough sleepers on the streets who might be struggling with mental health problems. Picture: Imogen BraddickThe boss of North East London Foundation Trust was also in attendance and pledged to help reach out to rough sleepers on the streets who might be struggling with mental health problems. Picture: Imogen Braddick

Founding members of Ilford Citizens are St Margaret's of Antioch Church of England, Salvation Army Ilford, Saints Peter and Paul Catholic Church, Saint Cedd's Catholic Church, Saint Bedes' Catholic Church, Saint John the Baptist Catholic Church, Saint Theresa's Catholic Church, St Mary's Church of England, Sikh Support, Mayespark Primary School, Al-Noor Primary School, Palmer Academy and City Gates Church.

Founding members have paid £19,000 in "membership dues" and joined for a range of reasons, from supporting rough sleepers to tackling issues affecting young people.

Gareth said: "We are bringing our people and money together so we can have a seat at the table."

Writing in the Recorder, Salvation Army Ilford captain John Clifton said: "We are not only making sure that there is a table - but we are at it, we are setting the menu, and we are ready to negotiate for an Ilford that makes us all proud."

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The assembly coincided with World Homeless Day and the names of rough sleepers who have died on the streets of Ilford were read out and a moment of silence was held for them.

Salvation Army leader Naomi Clifton said: "When we work on issues that we all care about we are more powerful.

"From the biggest to the smallest we know that we need each other to build power and make change."

Ilford's youngest citizens also took to the stage to showcase what they hope Ilford's skyline will look like in the future and leaders from other London boroughs spoke out about homelessness campaigns.

Councillor Jas Athwal, leader of Redbridge Council, and deputy leader, Councillor Kam Rai, were in attendance and agreed to support the work of Ilford Citizens.

"We seek to be at the decision making level for the regeneration of Ilford," Paul Samuels, member of Ilford Citizens' executive group said.

Paul asked Cllr Athwal if he would support a homelessness summit in February 2020.

Cllr Athwal agreed and said: "We will work with Salvation Army and Ilford Citizens to ensure that when we regenerate Ilford town centre that we don't forget the people and we take them with us on this journey called life."

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