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Faith in the city: Keble students' summer placements

Saturday 01 August 2009

Simon Cuff writes:

Continuing the tradition of young religious Keble members engaging in social work in inner-city areas (in the spirit of Keble-founded Oxford House) for the month July five Keble members have been working in East London with the Contextual Theology Centre and the community organisation London Citizens. Sponsored by the Keble Ordinands' Fund, set up for the purpose of young people exploring their various vocations, Simon Cuff (Philosophy and Theology '06); Robert Dix (History '06); James Holden (Theology '06); Hannah Martin (English '07) and Sazan Meran (PPE '06) have been based across the faith communities of the Society of St. Francis in the Parish of the Divine Compassion, Newham; St. Paul's, Shadwell; and the East London Mosque. They have contributed to a number of projects in the area through London Citizens (a group which uses the tools of community organising at one time employed by current US President Barack Obama in Chicago) – from campaigning to resolve legal status issues of migrant communities (the Strangers into Citizens campaign) to calling for a debate on the morality of usury (which earned them an appearance on Newsnight). Their work concentrated on issues of community safety as part of the CitySafe campaign, and in a month of conversations and meetings they managed to sign up some 140 shops across the East London area to agree to commit to 100% reporting of crime and to act as safe havens for young people who feel under threat. This is the second year that Keble students have participated in this placement and it is hoped that the relationship between Keble and the Contextual Theology Centre, London Citizens and the East End can continue to grow in subsequent years. For more information about the work of the Contextual Theology Centre see www.theology-centre.org/; and London Citizens see www.londoncitizens.org.uk/