Tea and Tolerance at Leeds Citizens First Gathering…


Leeds Citizens is a newly formed alliance of civil society organisations working together for the common good of Leeds. We have raised over £65,000 of local funding from membership dues and Founding Partner contributions and employ a professional Community Organiser to support our work. Following a six-month Listening Campaign, our members have built community relationships and recently voted to begin campaigns on Poverty, Health and Social Care and Transport.

The event came at the end of our 6-month Listening Campaign – a focused effort to build relationships and identify the major issues affecting our communities. Through one-to-one conversations, group meetings and community events, trained teams of leaders highlighted a number of common concerns across communities:, including Poverty, Transport, Community Facilities, Health & Social Care, Litter and Dog Fouling. Following testimonies on each issue, the newly announced members of Leeds Citizens voted to prioritise 3 of these for public action ( transport, living wage and mental health).

We were invited by Sue Howie to bring Tea and Tolerance to the first gathering of Leeds Citizens. So we gathered along with about 750 other people at the Centenary Pavillion at Elland Road – on the anniversary of 7/7 bombing to talk, share and listen. The people reflected a multiplicity of diversity across the city. The aim to bring the communities of Leeds together to talk about and create actions for the common good of the city and the people of the city. We then were all invited to join the muslim community for the breaking of their fast for Ramadan. Tea and tolerance spoke with people before the gathering started and then again afterwards….

How do you make the perfect cup of tea? Easy. You put the bag in first, then the water, then the milk. Some people put the milk in first then the bag and hot water, but i don’t understand that. Makes no sense.

Have you found your voice? Yes. I think so. Maybe. Yeah he’s found his voice.

When do you cross the line? All the time. I like crossing the line. I usually have to learn by my own mistakes. More fun that way. Of course you do have to deal with the consequences of line crossing but it’s the best way to learn I think.

How does it feel to be wrong? Not good.

Do you count? Yes. Yes I count. Unless you are meaning counting like numbers. I was thinking more like I matter. I do. We all do.

When do you laugh at yourself? All the time. The other day I tripped and i could feel myself going and i thought that i was going to smack my head on the floor. At the last moment i caught my balance and I just laughed out loud at that ridiculous near miss.

What is freedom? Freedom is choice. Feeling you have a choice and can make a difference. Or is that power? How do power and freedom relate to one another?

What makes you happy? Here this event – all these people that have come together to make a difference and improve our city for the common good. That makes me so happy!

If you could change anything, what would you change?Tricky. How do you know you are changing things for the better?

What’s stopping you? Nothing. Nothing is stopping me. I am on fire. And nothing will stop me doing this. i am so inspired by the people around me and all that hey are achieving. it is all so amazing. i don’t have a venue at present for my pop up cafe but it doesn’t matter. I’m not worried. It won’t stop me.

What do you think of your neighbour? I like my neighbours. we get on well. I expect it can be challenging depending where you live. Flats for instance can be a bit noisy. I used to have a neighbour who was either arguing or making up from arguing with her boyfriend. Both of these were noisy. I think its easier if you know and get on with your neighbours – things they do don’t seem to matter as much then.

How does it feel to be vulnerable? Not good. I would imagine that feels lonely and scary and a bit sad.

Comments added to our Handbook for being a Human in the 21st century/Questions added… Always be ready for surprises. Question everything, We need to bring people of all different communities together to talk to each other. (M Khialiq) What’s ‘your’ meaning of life? How do I become a more compassionate person? What is the difference between freedom and power?

Comments:Brilliant! Really enjoyed this. What a good idea! We need more things like this. We need to build relationships and talk to people- move out of our comfort zones and build more understanding and compassion for people who are different from us. We need to understand and have compassion. Listening is the first step. Many thanks for all  contributions.

CJYop1OWwAAQotE-1 20150707_221418-2 FullSizeRender-58 CJYoP9IWgAAWDI6