Bishop Ruth was speaking at the digital accountability assembly for Somerset Citizens, one of the newest community organising alliances in the growing Citizens UK network. Citizens UK brings communities together to fight for social justice and the common good; pooling resources and people to bring about change and create a more inclusive and fairer society for everyone.
The Diocese of Bath and Wells is a founder member of Somerset Citizens, along with representatives from faith groups, local schools, and individuals in Somerset.
Bishop Ruth, who has been offering socially distanced blessings for staff and residents in local care homes, spoke about the commitment of care home staff and care staff working in the community.
“For 10 weeks, people in the UK came together to clap for the NHS, care workers and other key workers – now we feel it is the time to act for those we clapped for, by securing the Real Living Wage – especially for those in the social care sector, in our residential homes and visiting care workers.”
“This group seemingly forgotten group of keyworkers, has proved, throughout the pandemic how vital their work has been, as they have worked tirelessly, often with little thought for their own safety, to look after some of the most vulnerable in our society.”
The Real Living Wage is one of the oldest and most successful campaigns of Citizens UK- it began in East London’s Churches, Trade Unions, Mosques and Schools and has spread throughout the country, lifting millions out of poverty pay.
At the Somerset meeting, the Leader of Somerset West and Taunton District Council, Cllr Federica Smith-Roberts said she would work towards the council becoming one of the 60 UK councils nationally which are a Living Wage Council, ensuring all staff and contracted staff are paid the Real Living Wage.
The Founding Assembly of Somerset Citizens, held in Taunton in March 2019, launched with three action groups based on the results of a previous listening campaign; homelessness, street safety, and transport. Wednesday’s meeting also heard about the great strides already being made in these areas and celebrated how the community and local authority have responded to the corona virus crisis.
Ruth Whitehead from the United Reformed Church in the South West says, “In this time of pandemic, now more than ever, it is vital that we work together to rethink and rebuild a better and fairer society. Together we will be celebrating the ways we have come together for the common good, and making plans for the future.”