7 key elements needed to achieve citizenship in practice


Most often "citizenship" is described as "the state of being a member of a particular country and having rights because of it". Our citizenship determines what our passports look like, how much we pay in taxes and what we get in return... and that is about it. 

But citizenship could mean much more to us and perhaps by redefining our citizenship and reclaiming our role, rights and responsibilities as citizens we will see a shift to a more equal, participatory society.

Citizen Network (launched in November 2016) is a global movement working to achieve citizenship for all. 

A lot of different groups in society are fighting the same battles but they are fighting them alone. Redefining our idea of citizenship could bring these groups together to work on the wider social-political changes we wish to see. 

Citizen Network believes being a citizen means being equal and different. We respect and value each other for our differences, knowing that everybody doesn’t need to be the same. We each make our own unique contribution to community life and it is being members of our community that make us equal.

As citizens we have rights, including the right to get the help we need to be a citizen, as well as duties, including helping others to be a citizen, knowing that everyone can be a citizen. Citizenship is about living a good life that we each choose, making contributions to the community, while respecting the rights of others to pursue their own path.

The movement suggests 7 key elements as their accessible, practical guide to citizenship - what it means and what we must do to make it a reality for all. This list was first produced by Simon Duffy and Wendy Perez as part of the Citizenship for All project which aims to ensure that all people, especially people with learning disabilities, are welcomed and respected as equal members of the community.

The 7 Keys to Citizenship are:

  1. Purpose – having goals, hopes and dreams and a structure for life and a plan to achieve this - having our own direction.
  2. Freedom – having control and the ability to speak up and be heard and to be legally visible in society - taking charge of our own life.
  3. Money – having enough money to live a good life and control over how that money is spent.
  4. Home – having a place that belongs to us where we have control over everything that happens there and feel safe - a base for a good life. 
  5. Help – having good help that enhances our gifts, talents and skills and supports our standing, freedom, rights and responsibilities.
  6. Life – making an active contribution to our communities - sharing our gifts - making a difference - learning with others - taking risks and having fun.
  7. Love – having loving relationships - finding friendships - enjoying life, love and sex - being part of a family - respecting ourselves and the rights of others.

Watch Simon Duffy explain in more details below. More on the 7 key elements here.

Citizen Network are bringing together people, groups and organisations around the world. They help people connect, learn from each other and work together to achieve citizenship for all. Find out how to get involved here.