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Citizenship and Integration Initiatative


The Citizenship and Integration Initiative (CII) funds secondments to the Greater London Authority for people working in civil society organisations. From there, they can help Londoners born outside of the UK play an active part in their community.

The Initiative is a partnership between Trust for London, Unbound Philanthropy, the Paul Hamlyn Foundation, City Bridge Trust, the Pears Foundation and the Greater London Authority and was founded in 2016.

The issue

Diversity is one of London’s real strengths - it’s one of the reasons many people choose to live here.

But 133,000 young Londoners can’t access higher education or work because they have ‘irregular migration status’. Over half (54%) of Londoners who were born abroad don’t have a British passport, including many European Union citizens who arrived in the UK before the end of free movement. These restrictions have real impact, stopping people from getting involved in - and feeling invested - in their city.

The CII’s shared goals link to the Mayor’s Social Integration Strategy, All of Us. These are:

  1. PARTICIPATION: Encouraging people to be active citizens and increasing voter registration
  2. EQUALITIES: Supporting young Londoners and Europeans to secure their legal rights
  3. RELATIONSHIPS: Making sure Londoners feel welcome and safe

The CII knows that the best way to make change happen is for civil society organisations and the public sector to work together, using everyone’s strengths and resources.

The CII has provided a model which enables a much greater and closer sharing of knowledge and skills.

Debbie Weekes-Bernard, Deputy Mayor for Social Integration, Social Mobility and Social Justice
Debbie Weekes Bernard

What have we funded?


We provide secondments using funds from a pool of independent foundations so that staff from civil society organisations can help deliver on the Mayor’s vision for social integration.

People from civil society organisations have valuable skills and experience which The Greater London Authority can use to develop strategic and practical ways of getting migrants involved in all aspects of London life. When the GLA works with other partners and funders, we know projects achieve far more.

The CII has funded secondments into the GLA’s Social Integration Team from Migrants Organise, Citizens UK, Coram Children’s Legal Centre, Doctors of the World, Just for Kids Law - Let us Learn (now We Belong), New Europeans, Hope Not Hate, Project 17, East European Resource Centre, and Kanlungan Filipino Consortium.


The CII has also funded three projects outside of the GLA:

  • Supporting local volunteering organisations to help test ways of using Citizenship Ceremonies to get more people involved in active citizenship opportunities, leading to Guidance for Local Authorities.
  • A primary school-based pilot testing out how legal advice can be given to children with insecure status. The programme takes a community-organising approach with parents, and is delivered by Citizens UK and Coram Children's Legal Centre.
  • London Voices: comprehensive research into the methods which allow people to get involved in civic and democratic activity in an equal, inclusive, representative way, from the Young Europeans Network of the3Million.

What have we achieved?

This secondment model is inspired by similar initiatives in the USA, but this is the first time it has been delivered in the UK at scale. The results, backed up by our learning partner, Renaisi, include:

Improved quality of activities

The quality of activities was higher than if the GLA had delivered them alone. For example, a member of staff seconded from New Europeans UK was able to shape and sense-check the EU Londoners Hub, making it a more helpful and appropriate platform for its 2 million users.

Greater exposure and prestige of activities

The reach and influence of activities was higher than if civil society organisations had delivered them alone. For example, staff seconded from Migrants Organise and Hope Not Hate argued that voter registration campaigns for under-registered communities should be led by regional government. This led to an annual London Voter Registration Week, which reached 1.4 million Londoners. It also meant that a new Democratic Engagement team was established in the GLA, working towards ensuring that all Londoners can access their democratic rights.

Influencing and contributing to GLA activities

Civil society staff were able to influence and shape GLA activities and policymaking in a way that would have been impossible outside of a secondment model. For example, a member of staff seconded from Doctors of the World worked with the GLA’s health Team during Covid. This led to the establishment of the London Asylum Healthcare Group (now a standing body, led by NHS London), making sure that all people seeking asylum and living in London hotels are automatically registered with a GP and are able to access Covid testing and vaccinations alongside other healthcare support.

Impacts of this initiative have been felt at a really high level in City Hall. For example, our work on young Londoners securing status put us far ahead of others in understanding the issue.

Matthew Ryder, Deputy Mayor for Social Integration, Social Mobility and Community Engagement
Matthew Ryder