I had bad employment with an abusive boss and a landlord who kicked my door in and left me without gas and electric for weeks. Things didn’t seem just but I found ways of managing and it is only now I realise they were not just. The people I was having conversations with were in similar situations – discussing things and receiving their solidarity gave me strength to leave those situations but I didn’t know bad landlords or bad bosses were challengable.
I also didn’t know that I could prevent it from happening to others.
I have been lucky enough to work in social justice ever since and now realise the importance of challenging and identifying injustice. Now when I am faced with things that are unjust I can approach social justice groups to help me bring a challenge.
I joined the South West London Law Centres in July 2021 in a new role managing community engagement.
Not sure how it happened but law and justice had moved away from the community. Unions and federations that existed to strengthen community negotiations with authorities have been restricted. Law centres that challenge unjust decisions made by those authorities are still here. Unions, federations and access to law are still in our arsenel against injustice.
For me engagement is speaking with, learning from and being led by the community.
Offering each other solidarity is also crucial.
Law centres respond to the injustice that is presented to them, we know that many situations go unreported and much injustice goes unidentified. I am here to learn from the community and to offer solidarity so the law centre and our community network can challenge injustice together and prevent it from happening to others.
In my first few weeks from speaking with grassroot groups and individuals in the community many new ideas have been shared – these will make the law a more powerful tool. This is one reason why engagement is so important.
When we launched the Community Call Out we wrote a little bit about that which you can read here.
COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT FOR SOCIAL JUSTICE
A starting step
On the 4th of August we launched a Community Call Out which asked a series of questions to the
people we serve.
We received 124 amazing responses from all across south west London and beyond.
Here is a map of some of the people I have connected with so far. Some people have been extremely responsive
and I can tell that the very idea of injustice within their community is a call to action.
A next step
I have spent the past two weeks going through the Community Call Out responses.
I have now spoken with some of you and have learnt things along the way.
To be led by the community we must explore how we implement your ideas and the things we can not
implement – discuss why not. In the Community Call Out we asked if people would join a justice network, 76 Community Call Out respondents signed up and 100s of people who have contacted us for help over the past month have also wanted to join a network.
A social justice network has softly been launched and I expect as we develop it together will be an explosion of social justice. Would you like to join this evolving network? contact firstname.lastname@example.org
I will post the newest developments here next week.
In solidarity – Rhi