Training for campaigners & activists in the UK – what’s on offer?
Updated: Aug 8, 2019
At the Organising for Change training collective, we’ve recently reviewed our strategy and core content. We’re super excited to be cooking up new plans and applying for funding – we’ll have more to share on our fresh new offer soon.
As part of our strategic review we surveyed the UK activist and campaign training landscape to work out where what we do fits. There’s a lot out there on offer! In the spirit of movement generosity we thought we’d share our thinking – but our list is by no means exhaustive. You may have already seen The Thoughtful Campaigner’s list of campaign training in the UK – there’s a bit of overlap but our list concentrates on organising, collective liberation, nature connection, spiritual / regenerative activism and broader movement building.
Some of these organisations offer training as a small part of their work, to those committed to taking action with them. Others offer training on many topics other than those we’ve grouped them in. We know we’ll have missed a lot so if you can see gaps please share descriptions and links in the comments below.
Act, Build, Change – A website with free modules teaching the basics of organising, the option to join their online community and an excellent blog.
The Ella Baker School of Transformative Organising – An excellent source of resources on inspiring historical organising struggles and a network of trainers who can deliver trainings with them.
Community Organisers– The national, non-profit membership body and training organisation for community organising in England. This organisation grew out of the government funded ‘big society’ organising programme started in 2011.
Citizens UK – Organising with the Saul Alinsky / Industrial Areas Foundation model that engages existing organisations (rather than individuals) in their network, and delivering training on this.
The Labour Party – Local organising chapters, connected to but separate from local party infrastructure, are training people interested in making change in their area.
The Art of Hosting – An approach to leadership that scales up from the personal to the systemic using personal practice, dialogue, facilitation and the co-creation of innovation to address complex challenges.
Resist & Renew– A collective of friends; activists; artists; and radical educators developing and running participatory workshops, courses and spaces for discussion.
Voices that Shake – The Healing Justice collective that came out of Shake! began as a collaboration by women of colour living in London. They work together on tools to help communities undo harm, heal and regenerate. They create workshops, trainings and skill shares for people in Black and Brown, working class and LGBTQI communities.
The Good Men Project – It’s founders set out to start an international conversation about what it means to be a good man in the 21st century – now as well as their blog and book they’ve been hosting a series of events.
London Roots Collective – A London-based group offering workshops and training to strengthen grassroots groups working towards social change. They also organise skill-sharing events and provide meeting facilitation to help groups create the change they want to see.
Turning the Tide – A Quaker nonviolence programme that delivers training, facilitates workshops, conversations and more.
Tripod (Scotland) – Works with grassroots collectives, campaigning groups, co-operatives, community groups and charities to help them become more effective and sustainable. They offer training, meeting facilitation and conflict mediation to support groups to work in better alignment with their visions and values.
Navigate – A team of experienced facilitators and trainers who facilitate meetings, run workshops and mediate conflicts for groups and organisations working towards social and environmental justice across the UK.
Seeds for Change– A worker’s Co-op offering training, meeting facilitation and online resources on collective organising and consensus decision making, developing strategy, campaign and action skills, setting up groups and co-ops, co-operative governance and training for trainers.
KIN – A new initiative aiming to bring black activists and organisers together from across the UK to collaborate, strategise and support each other.
Working on our Power – A nine-month transformative leadership programme for Womxn of Colour in Europe.
Earth First – The general principles behind Earth First! are non-hierarchical organisation and the use of direct action to confront, stop and eventually reverse the forces that are responsible for the destruction of the Earth and its inhabitants. They coordinate two annual gatherings.
Community Co-Lab – A Bristol based group who facilitate collaboration, active engagement, participation, co-design, self-organisation and community building.
Centre for Alternative Technology (Wales) – CAT is an educational charity dedicated to researching and communicating positive solutions for environmental change.
People of Colour in Nature – A community for people of colour to explore the healing power of nature, environmental justice & land-honouring ancestral traditions.
Schumacher College – A learning community offering ecology-centred masters programmes and short courses. Set in beautiful surroundings in South Devon, students are encouraged to develop a deep, participatory relationship with nature. Their courses can be expensive, but some teachers also offer independent courses for less / on a sliding scale.
Regenerative / spiritual activism
Ecodharma – A retreat centre in the Catalan Pyrenees offering courses, events and retreats. Their pioneering regenerative activism course lauched over a decade ago has been hugely influential in supporting activists to recover from, and prevent, burnout.
Gaia House – Gaia House is a meditation retreat centre offering silent meditation retreats in the Buddhist tradition. Some of their courses are aimed at collective liberation / for those working in social change.
St Ethelburga’s – This London based centre for reconciliation and peace offers programmes, training and events to inspire and equip people from all backgrounds to become peace-builders in their own communities and lives.
Action for Happiness – Action for Happiness is a movement of people committed to building a happier and more caring society. Members make a simple pledge: to try to create more happiness in the world around them; many form local groups to take action together, supported with training and resources.
Advaya Initiative – An alternative think-tank seeking solutions to the interconnected crises of environmental destruction and mental health. They offer retreats and put on trainings and events.
To clarify – this category is used here in the broadest possible sense. While organisations like Ulex do run courses on social movement building, others cater to campaigning NGOs, funders, insider advocates etc.
Ulex – A training centre in the Catalan Pyrenees (the sister project to Ecodharma) providing training in social movement impact and resilience. They take an integral approach – combining personal, inter-personal and political transformation.
Training for Change – A US based training and capacity building organisation for activists and organisers – occasionally runs training in the UK in partnership with other organisations.
Public Interest Research Centre (PIRC) – Works with civil society to develop stories and strategies for a more equal, green and democratic society.
Fearless Futures – Works within organisations to engage people in critical thinking to understand and challenge the root causes of inequalities and to grow new leadership for transformative change.
The Social Change Agency – A third sector consultancy which offers training and workshops on their movement building canvass amongst other things.
The New Economy Organisers Network (NEON) – A network of organisers from civil society groups, running trainings and supporting campaigns to help progressives win social, economic and environmental justice.
The Sheila McKechnie Foundation – An organisation providing training and support to those seeking to bring about positive social change across the UK. They also run annual campaigner awards, offer consultancy and advocate for civil society space to campaign.
Campaign Bootcamp – Runs a range of trainings (including a week long residential with lots of sponsored scholarships offering free places) focused on learning how to run effective campaigns.
The Advocacy Academy – A youth movement for students from South London passionate about creating a more fair, just and equal world. They offer a social justice leadership fellowship with a series of residential trainings.
The University of Westminster – Offers Media, Campaigning and Social Change post-graduate courses combining best practice campaigning & communications skills with academic theories & conceptual. The courses help participants build a critical and reflective perspective on their campaigning.
The Campaigning Forum (ECF) – Formerly the E-campaigning Forum, this 2 day conference in Oxford now explores campaigning more broadly. It offers a combination of open space sessions, workshops and speakers and is aimed at NGO campaigners.
What have we missed? Please share other suggestions with links and descriptions in the comments below: