Diocese of

Hexham and Newcastle

Bishop Robert Byrne CO

Tyne and Wear Citizens:

Diocese has become a Strategic Partner of Tyne and Wear Citizens.

At a recent meeting of the Diocesan Directors, it was agreed that the Diocese would become a Stategic Partner to Tyne and Wear Citizens for the next three years, giving £10k a year to contribute to the costs of employing a community organiser. Tyne and Wear Citizens is a broad based community organising organisation, which seeks to develop civic society and bring about social change.

At the moment there are three campaigns:

  • Improving provision for Mental Health Services.

  • Addressing poverty with a particular focus of promoting the Living Wage and reforming the Free School Meal system.

  • Making communities safer and combating hate-crime.

Members of catholic parishes and schools are involved in all three campaigns.

Bishop Séamus is very supportive of Diocesan involvement in Tyne and Wear Citizens and of the aims of all three campaigns.

If you would like more information about the work of Tyne and Wear Citizens please contact the Head of Justice and Peace, Fr. Chris Hughes at: or Tyne and Wear Citizen's Community Organiser, Sara Bryson at


Listening Campaign

The Diocese is a strategic partner of Tyne and Wear Citizens (TWC), which seeks to support the common good and develop civic society and its members. TWC operates on a cycle of listening action and evaluation. Since its launch in 2017, TWC had completed one of these cycles that lead to the establishment of three campaigns: on improving mental health services, fighting food poverty, especially for school children and combating hate crime. All of these campaigns had a number of successes. It was felt by the end of 2019 the time was right to start a fresh cycle with 2020 being a year for listening.

The initial launch was in December of last year at the AGM, but our world is very different now due to the impact of the pandemic on our lives and our economy. Due to these dramatic changes on June 24th TWC had a relaunch of the listening campaign.

The full relaunch meeting summary is available now to read or download (pdfword).

Just Change Campaign

Wednesday 7 May 2019 saw the launch of the ‘Just Change Campaign’, led by Tyne and Wear Citizens and Citizens UK to tackle school hunger and inequality. The launch sees the publication of a report, a pupil-led investigation into the £65 million missing from the pockets of children on Free School Meals, followed by a national campaign to raise awareness of this issue and includes a special report by BBC News. The Diocese is supporting this campaign fully and in fact, three of our Catholic Secondary Schools, all part of the Carmel Academy Trust, are among the first schools in the country to adopt the policy being advocated.

Listen to a podcast by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation with Maura Regan, CEO at Carmel Education Trust talking about the campaign.


Tyne and Wear Citizens established the Just Change campaign following our listening campaign in 2017, which saw us speak to thousands of people in Newcastle, Sunderland and Durham.

It didn’t come as a surprise that poverty – driven by low wages, insecure work and cutbacks to public services – was one of the main issues putting pressure on members of our community and their families. The North East has the most frequently used food bank, the highest number of zero hours contracts in the whole country and has some of the worst levels of child poverty in the UK.

Listening campaigns, however, can unveil hidden injustices. By speaking to local people about what concerned them, Tyne & Wear Citizens uncovered the stigma felt by children who are short-changed by the Free School Meals system. The inability to access their unused school dinner change left them feeling stigmatised, disadvantaged and - most worryingly - hungry.

Bishop Robert Byrne CO says,

"The Diocese of Hexham and Newcastle is delighted that some of its schools are taking such a significant lead on the Just Change campaign. This campaign is simply asking that all funds for Free School Meals; money designated to combat child hunger, be used for that sole purpose.

The Diocese encourages others to give their backing to this one step in the battle to fight against the scandal and injustice of child hunger in our country. The promotion of the Common Good is at the heart of Catholic Social Teaching and this campaign is seeking just that."

The full report is now available to download or read.

If you wish to support or keep in touch with the campaign, register your interest here.


BBC New Report:

Kenton School, Newcastle - Park Vew School, Chester-le-Street and Venerable Bede Academy, Sunderland.


Tyne and Wear Citizens would like to invite you to a celebration of the work achieved in Alexander Scott Park, North Shields taking place on Wednesday 15 September at 3.30pm.

View the poster for further information.


The Cost of Missing Lunchtime: A briefing on free school meals in the North East of England.

This briefing aims to give you information about free school meals in the North East of England, including new calculations carried out by Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG), Children North East (CNE) and the North East Child Poverty Commission (NECPC), alongside a range of policy and practice recommendations for the government, local authorities and schools that will increase access to free school meals for children and families.

Shockingly, over 35,000 children living below the UK poverty line in the North East are not currently eligible for free school meals. In addition, more than one in ten children who are eligible for free schools meals in the North East do not take up this offer.

You can read the full briefing here, which acknowledges that a number of schools in the Diocese have supported the Just Change Campaign to help children who receive free school meals and includes some testimonies from pupils from St. Thomas More Catholic High School, North Shields, one of our Diocesan schools who are one of the schools that have signed up to the campaign that was launched in 2019 (see ‘Campaigns’ above for more information).

If you have any questions, or would like to meet to discuss free school meals in the North East, please email Amanda Bailey, Director of the North East Child Poverty Commission, at

A community inspired by the vision of Pope Francis in Fratelli tutti during the pandemic

A blog by Fr. Chris Hughes has been published in The Tablet reflecting on Pope Francis vision, ‘Fratelli Tutti’ and the ongoing relationship between Tyne & Wear Citizens and the Diocese of Hexham & Newcastle.

To read the article in full click here.

Can you help with research?

Tim Cox, a Trainee Educational Psychologist from Newcastle University is exploring how fathers perceive their role in their child/children’s development as part of his doctoral research.

He would like to find out what fathers believe they are doing to support their children, so that educational professionals, including Educational Psychologists, can understand the motivations and aims of fathers’ involvement with their children.

He has created a questionnaire that should take between 10 and 30 minutes to complete, which can be accessed online.

If you would like any further information, please email Tim.

Welcome Sunderland Organiser – Claire Rodgerson

We are delighted that Claire Rodgerson has started with us this week as Associate Community Organiser in Sunderland. Claire brings with her a wealth of experience having previously worked with women affected by sexual violence and joins us from Show Racism the Red Card. Her knowledge, experience and contacts will support enormously the changes we are seeking in the region. Please give Claire a warm Tyne & Wear Citizens welcome and get booking in a 121 with her as soon as you can! You can reach Claire at


Learning the craft of organising is essential if we are to win. It equips us with strategies needed to think through how we will achieve the changes we seek.

All members are entitled to send as many people as they like onto our 2 day training. Ideally each organisation should have a small team who are trained and understand the craft.

National Training

Please find below dates for 3 and 6 day training in 2020 and 2021, if you have not yet attended, please do get booked up. Let Claire or Sara know, which you can attend.

3 Day Training

Tuesday 3 March at 2.00pm to Thursday 5 March 2020 at 4.00pm.

Tuesday 22 September 2020 at 2.00pm to Thursday 24 September 2020 at 4.00pm.

Tuesday 16 March 2021 at 2.00pm to Thursday 18 March 2021 at 4.00pm.

6 Day Training

28 June – 3 July 2020 (location tbc).

27 June – 2 July 2021 (location tbc).


Misogyny as a hate crime

The action team continues to push to have misogyny recognised as a hate crime. You may have seen in the press that Citizens Action across the UK took us a step closer to this.

Tyne & Wear Citizens action team will continue to work with colleagues in Nottingham and Manchester to make this a reality!

You can keep up to date on all the latest news from Tyne and Wear Citizens by following us on Twitter or Facebook.