People Powered Change – Young Foundation: Building Local Activism
All this week we’ve be publishing guest blogs from projects we funded 12 months ago under the banner People Powered Change. To conclude the series, today we hear from the Young Foundation’s Mandeep Hothi about their Building Local Activism programme.
The Young Foundation is now one year into our Building Local Activism programme, which has two strands: Scaling Proven Models and Digital Activism. We’ve already learnt a lot and are excited about the year ahead.
Through our Scaling Proven Models strand we want to help grow the field of community organising. To do this, we are working with Church Action on Poverty, Citizens UK and People Can (formerly the Novas Scarman Group) – supporting each to operate in new areas of the country on a long term, sustainable basis.
At the core of community organising is the development of relationships. Organisers need to get to know local residents and support them to come together around common issues. This is an on-going process but is most crucial during the first twelve to eighteen months, after which new community organising groups begin to emerge and existing groups become strengthened.
Over the next year we expect to see new and strengthened groups in areas of the country like Salford, Birmingham, Nottingham, Middlesbrough, Bristol and Liverpool. These groups will be equipped with the skills, experience and vision to influence the decisions that affect their areas and we look forward to sharing more over the coming year.
Our second strand of work, Digital Activism, is supporting several community groups to campaign and lobby for change using digital media. We’ve spent the past six months working with these groups to develop their capacity to use the technology and to define the kinds of campaigns they want to work on.
Some of these campaigns are underway. Hackney Citizens Advice Bureau has launched a campaign to map and raise awareness of the impact of housing benefit cuts on Hackney’s residents (find out more on Facebook here). The Leeds Older People’s Forum is planning a series of activities to campaign for a more accessible city centre, and the Women’s Networking Hub, based in the West Midlands, has been redesigning its website to make it more conducive to campaigning.
We’ve also been developing new tools to support community activism across the country. In collaboration with www.thumbprintcity.com we will soon be launching Activist SMS, an online text message mailing list tool that allows community activists to broadcast text messages to their networks and receive replies. It will also be optimised for mobile browsing – so messages can be sent on the fly.
We’ll continue to share updates about Activist SMS and our Digital Activism work via our blog http://yfweb.wordpress.com. You can also follow us on twitter @yf_web.