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Citizenship movement founded in Sheffield launches first global not-for-profit cooperative

The new Citizen Network Osk builds on six years of international movement building to support and empower citizens to address global problems together as equals.

Citizen network banner

A citizenship movement founded in Sheffield that has connected more than 1,000 people across 34 countries has launched the first ever international not-for-profit cooperative.

Citizen Network was set up in 2016 to support and empower citizens from all walks of life to address severe and entangled global problems – such as the climate crisis, inequality, democratic collapse and social exclusion – together and as equals.

The network already connects 246 diverse groups and organisations working in many key areas of social, economic and political concern. It has played a critical role in supporting and advocating for citizen-based innovations including Universal Basic Income (through UBI Lab Network), hyperlocal democracy (through Neighbourhood Democracy Movement) and social care (through the Self-Directed Support Network).

The new co-op, entitled Citizen Network Osk and founded in Finland, launches today on United Nations Day.

It includes 12 initial organisational members, among them the Finnish mental health organisation Ikinori, Scottish 'human services' campaigning group Radical Visions, Sheffield-based citizen think tank Citizen Network Research (formerly known as the Centre for Welfare Reform), and social change organisation Opus Independents, which publishes Now Then Magazine and co-ordinates the annual Festival of Debate.

Dr Simon Duffy, Director of Citizen Network Research and President of Citizen Network Osk, said that none of the big problems faced by humans can be solved "by simply repeating the patterns that created these problems in the first place."

"We cannot rely on systems, markets or undemocratic forces to rescue us. We need to act like citizens, treat each other with respect and build the democratic structures we need at every level to take back our own agency and start rebuilding and rewilding our world.”

Rosie Lawn, Chair of the Supervisory Board of Citizen Network Osk, said the new cooperative structure will "serve to motivate stakeholders, channel their voice, and combine their various resources in an innovative and sustainable way."

The work of Citizen Network is informed by the seven keys to citizenship, a concept created by Duffy, with support from Wendy Perez to improve and strengthen it since 2010. The seven keys are:

  1. Living a life of meaning
  2. Having freedom to direct our own lives
  3. Having enough money to be independent
  4. Helping and being helped
  5. Having a home and a place to belong
  6. Making a life in the community
  7. Forming relationships of love
by Sam Walby (he/him)
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