A NEW alliance has been launched to help fight poverty in Colchester.

The Colchester Citizens Alliance is made up of Essex University, the Student Union, the Church of England, Colchester Mosque, the Bangladeshi Women’s Group, Colchester Methodist Circuit, the Quakers, the Baptist Church, Colchester Foodbank, St Benedict’s Catholic College, Colchester Sixth Form, Colchester Institute and others.

More than 100 delegates attended a special assembly, where they were given an update on existing campaigns by various community groups. Speeches included moving testimonies from young people about hate crime and mental health.

The Bishop of Colchester, the Rt Rev Roger Morris, said: “There is a hunger for change in the Colchester area for life to be better, fairer, more joyful, more just, more inclusive, more exciting, more secure, for more of us – for all of us.

“We want more than what we have at the moment, not just for ourselves but for others who might be struggling or missing out on all life here has to offer.

“We are interested in a brighter future, with fewer barriers, more people actively involved in shaping our community.”

Colchester Citizens is to be the newest branch of the larger organisation Citizens UK, a national movement offering training in grassroots community organising.

For Colchester, the story began in 2015 when community organiser Jean-Michel Knutsen first began meeting with groups.

Bashir Goni, chairman of Colchester Mosque said: “We have already achieved so much.

“We have united as civic organisations, pledging money and resources to work together as the people of Colchester for the people of Colchester. “We have secured temporary lottery funding to pay a community organiser to train us and work with us while we get our own resources together to pay an organiser long term.

“We have formed listening teams in our organisations and have had thousands of conversations in the community.”

The Rev Caroline Beckett, one of the co-chairs of Colchester Citizens, said it could create real change.

She said: “By breaking down problems into bite-sized issues and working together in an agreed way to support each other, we can make a real difference instead of just complaining about things.

“It’s not about shouting and waving placards, but about getting a seat at the table where decisions are being made that affect us so we can change them.”

Colchester Citizens Alliance can be contacted via email on colchestercitizens@gmail.com.