giving and taking note

Campaign Celebrates the Joy and Beauty of Caregiving

Our Organising Foundation Course is designed to give you the basic theory and tools you need to win progressive campaigns.

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the BBC. The airport called that afternoon and said they would like to meet.

After the letter was sent, the workers met again to evaluate and decide next steps. We looked at the charts to identify who hadn’t signed the letter, why and who else we needed to speak to, to fill in the gaps. We agreed that we needed to keep up the pressure until the decision on the third runway had been made. Over the next months we carried on doing structure tests and asking our allies to act.


We met with the airport early December. At that meeting the airport announced they would sign up to become a Living Wage employer! They agreed to giving a pay rise to over 3,200 subcontracted staff, including some pay rises of almost £3 an hour. This was a huge shift from the previous meetings with the airport as workers were beginning to pose a real threat to the airports self-interest to gain the third runway. In a few months we had made far greater gains that in the previous years because we stopped taking shortcuts and focused on deep organising and building the power of the workers.


Power Structure Analysis

A Power Structure Analysis is a tool that allows you to see how much power those that have a stake in the fight have. It is key in order to design an effective strategy so that you can build your power and influence those that will be making the decision on your issue.

Identifying Leaders

In order to win a campaign you need to have a mass of people in your community or workplace with you. Otherwise decision makers, such as politicians, can decide to ignore you. To have a mass of people behind you, you first need to use techniques to identify who the organic leaders are in the place you are operating in. In other words, who are the people that others look to when making a decision. 

Relational Meetings

Once you've done your research, the single most important thing that anyone Organising needs to do is LOTS of relational meetings. Relational meetings are one-to-one meetings that allow us to build a connection with someone and move them into action. Relational Meetings allow us to:

1. Understand the other person's self-interest

If we want to bring someone into the fight then we need to understand what it is important to that person. What is their stake in this fight? Why would they want  to get involved? Otherwise we are asking people to get involved with our agenda, rather than working together on something that is in both of our interests.

2. Bring people out of apathy

Apathy is an incredibly prevalent and harmful force. Relational meetings allow us an opportunity to tackle apathy head on, with the use of a tool we call the Apathy Staircase.

3. Motivate people through stories

Storytelling is a very powerful tool we use in Organising. Through stories we help people to connect to us and our story, connect to people's sense of injustice, give people a hope, and show them a roadmap to winning a campaign. They also help us create the narrative for the campaign.

By following these steps, your campaign will have a clear strategy, the right people leading the campaign, and enough people behind it to ensure that when you move into action you should be successful.


To delve deeper into each of these areas please join our Organising Foundation Course where we give detailed practical support to putting each of these stages into practice. 

As we waited in the freezing December cold, I took out my phone one more time to see if the news had come in yet. My fingers frozen from being kettled for hours made it hard to work the pad. Finally, the screen lit up, but I could see no headlines had come through yet.

The mood in Trafalgar square was ominous as we waited for the results of the vote on whether the government were going to rise university tuition fees from £3,000 a year to £9,000 a year. Everyone in the square was cold, tired and hungry. Some people were building fires, some were trying to break into the Treasury, while thousands of others were standing around waiting impatiently for the results.

The last 6 months prior to this point had been relentless. For me, as the Campaigns Officer at the University of Manchester Students’ Union, every waking moment in those months I spent engaging students in Manchester and moving them into action. We marched in Manchester and in London, we occupied the University, we took direct action… we mobilised thousands of students to act. We did everything we could… right?

I suddenly heard a murmur ripple through the square, across the thousands of students kettled there. I took out my phone and saw the headline. We had lost. My heart sunk. And I thought to myself, all that work and dedication amounted to nothing. I cried the whole way home. I locked myself in my room and questioned everything I’d ever believed. Can we actually create change? Is there a way to actually win progressive campaigns? Because so far in my lifetime, I’d not seen that we could.

This question lead me on a quest to find out the answer, and to start exploring who is actually winning progressive campaigns, and how are they doing it. And that is how I came across Organising.

The Solution: Organising

Organising is where you bring a wide range of people and organisations from a community or workplace together to build a unified body. By coming together in this way that community or workplace then has enough weight behind it in order to challenge politicians and companies to act on the issues impacting that community. I’m sure many of us have experienced how difficult it is to get listened to when you are the only one person speaking up, or you are just a few people. In Organising you bring together hundreds or thousands of people together so that you cannot be ignored, and you can further your collective agenda.

There are 3 key differences between Organising and the campaign we did as students in 2010.

1. Build a broad coalition

In Organising you want to build broad coalitions, rather than mobilise just one facet of the population such as students. You do this so that you can have more strength. The more diverse your coalition is the more likely it is that politicians will care about what you have to say. And they are less able to box you in as one interest group among others. This way they can also not pit you against each other.

2. Research the interests of your opponent

Knowing your opponent’s interests and Achilles’ heel is key to Organising. Once you have done enough desk based and on the ground research then the actions you do should be aimed at using this knowledge to your advantage. For instance, in 2010 it would have strengthened our hand to have a real understanding of the interests of those in government so that we could focus our actions on trying to become a threat to this.   

3. Be strategic

By doing a Power Analysis of the fight you are in, and what you need to do in order to win and shift the power balance, you can form your strategy and decide on specific tactics that will get you to where you want to be. We often decide to take particular actions, like marching or occupying a University, because it is familiar and what we know. In Organising, on the other hand, what we are interested in is what actions will be effective.


I don’t know for sure that having used an Organising model in 2010 would have led to a win. But what I do know is that since I became an Organiser in 2013 I finally started winning campaigns and have seen that you can create change, and that by using this methodology you can win progressive campaigns.