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Amplify: local campaigning in a digital world

May 31, 2013

How do you get the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions to live on £53 per week? How do you get the first non-white President elected to the highest office in the Western world? And how do you get 1.6 billion people to watch a lesser known K-Pop star prance about on an imaginary horse?

For better or for worse, the internet has become an integral part of our planet’s collective conscience.

But what about closer to home? How do we get a question posed to Boris on the impact of housing benefit changes? How do we get people across the country to rate retailers’ displays of lads’ mags? And how can free or low-cost web tools help us do this?

The internet is clearly good at raising awareness of and campaigning on big global issues – it’s not called the World Wide Web for nothing. But it’s becoming apparent that ‘local’ issues can be tackled through the same means.

DA campaigns

For our Digital Activism project, we worked with six small organisations to look at the role web tools could play in local campaigning; giving people a voice, helping them spread important messages and mobilising new audiences.

We found that, understandably, campaigners want and need to engage a wide range of people to strengthen the campaign and raise its profile. Free and low-cost web tools can help campaigners do this.

The benefits of a wide network of supporters was particularly evident for Shahida, our campaigner behind Shelve It! in Birmingham.

Shahida is the founder of the Women’s Networking Hub. This network of over 1,000 women from across the West Midlands and beyond hadn’t really been called on to campaign on an issue so far, so Shelve It! was new territory for Shahida. But the feminist angle and a large network meant there was a ready-made support base.

The request was simple; people were called on to rate retailers’ displays of lads’ mags – are they out of view and reach of children? – and share them on a porn map.

Although the focus for Shelve It! was local, the global nature of web tools like Twitter meant that anyone anywhere could get involved. Lads’ mags being displayed in reach and view of children wasn’t just a concern to people in Birmingham, and Shelve

It! provided a channel for people to share frustrations and highlight retailers who flaunted the objectification of women, wherever they were. Retailer ratings didn’t just come from the West Midlands where the campaign was focused, but from as far afield as Edinburgh, Durham and London. Shelve It! was being driven by people across the country, not just Shahida in Birmingham.

Critics would argue that such activities are “clicktivism”. That we’re replacing placards with hashtags and protests with browsing. Does it really mean as much?

For Shelve It!, definitely. Online collaboration helped give different people a voice and spread the message wider than Shahida initially hoped and strived for, strengthening the campaign.

In addition, online activism can amplify an issue to those who can make change. While reaching individuals to get involved and share ratings wasn’t too difficult for Shelve it! for Hackney CAB Crowdmap, it was a slightly different matter.

The Hackney CAB Crowdmap campaigner, Catherine, wanted to engage local people facing difficulties due to the new housing benefit cap. But with many of these people struggling to get by, what was the likelihood they would have internet access, never mind join an online campaign to share their stories?

Catherine made the most of offline opportunities to gather stories via CAB Advisors and added them to the Crowdmap and social media profiles herself to make sure everyone could be heard.

But what difference would that make on its own?

Catherine wanted to reinforce these stories so looked at how many properties in Hackney were available on one day. Only 14 properties – or one per cent of available Hackney housing – were available to people on housing benefit. The findings seemed to be a hook. Patrick Butler shared the results on his Guardian Cuts Blog, and Darren Johnson AM used it to pose a question to Boris Johnson at Mayor’s Question Time.

While the outcome from the question wasn’t necessarily ground-breaking – Boris wanted to see more evidence from across London – it proved one thing. That web tools, some offline activity, and sharing voices can help amplify a campaign to people in power. It also helped show others the importance of this kind of activism; it prompted other CABs and support organisations to look at similar activities in their areas. Perhaps Boris would listen then.

Our campaigners didn’t see these web activities as “clicktivism”, but instead saw the potential of using web tools to connect with their communities and increase their involvement in campaigning.

While our campaigns didn’t see a law introduced to display lads’ mags out of reach and view of children – yet – or reverse the housing benefit changes – yet – they did set in motion wider activities around the issues. Our campaigners explored new

territory, created new personal and organisational links, and brought a voice to communities who felt unheard. Along the way, they also got the issues brought to the forefront by people with power.

Our report – Amplify: Local campaigning in a digital world – outlines the learning above, alongside other lessons, from our Digital Activism project.  The report shares five key tips for local online activists:

  • Decide who to engage and what you want them to do.
  • Collaborate.
  • Keep content accessible and up-to-date.
  • Maintain momentum.
  • Target influencers to amplify your message.

We hope this inspires others to campaign online on issues that matter to them.

Our Digital Activism work with these six communities has now ended, but you can still support the campaigns by visiting their websites and joining them on Facebook and Twitter.

And for those of you who claim puzzlement at the lesser-known K-Pop star”, wonder no more.


Campaigns update

March 19, 2013

Sorry for the unreasonably long silence from us there. I can’t quite believe how long it’s been since the last blog post. But, things have been continuing for Digital Activism. Our campaigners have made great progress since the last post. New websites have been made, social networking activities have been under way and a wide range of people have been getting involved. And we’re now busy writing it all up into a toolkit for others to (hopefully) be inspired to do similar. 

Here’s a very quick round up of our campaigners’ hard work so far. Please do take a look at what they’re doing and feel free to get involved, share with your networks and join them on Twitter and Facebook. Why not even rate your retailer and add it to the Shelve It! Porn Map, wherever you are…

Action Peckham (Southwark)

We have been very busy working with Ahmed at Southwark Organisers to develop a website and use social media and text messaging to engage people in Peckham. Ahmed had no experience of administrating a website – Action Peckham – let alone making one, but has developed a great little website to share local people’s thoughts, opinions and wants for their neighbourhood. He’s also started learning how to use his Facebook page to share information with people.

Hackney CAB Crowdmap

Hackney CAB Crowdmap has been hampered somewhat recently due to resources, but work does continue and campaign research and findings have been shared in numerous reports and papers, including London Councils and Consumer Focus. Other CABs and advice organisations have also been inspired and are looking at similar ways to map problems with the benefit cap pilots. The problems faced with benefit changes are not going away in a hurry and a lot of organisations are already applying  lessons learned from Hackney CAB Crowdmap. (Facebook: Hackney CAB Crowdmap, Twitter: @HCABCrowdmap)

Holloway Against Debt

In Holloway, workshops were held in the run up to Christmas to help people save or make money. Local people got involved in making Christmas presents and learning how to use eBay to sell their stuff and Freecycle to get free stuff. Since then, a Money Talk was held with David Barclay from London Citizens to find out what older women users of Holloway Neighbourhood Group thought of money and financial institutions in Holloway. More plans are being made to follow this up and link up with other organisations concerned with debt locally.

Leeds: A City for All Ages 

In Leeds, older people have been getting involved in capturing their experiences and opinions on the accessibility of Leeds on video through training with the Media Trust’s Adam Perry. And two older people got involved in the council’s Age Audit, adding their voices (through video) into research into accessibility by the council. (Twitter: @LeedsOPF)

Mothers Against Gangs

In September we started working with Mothers Against Gangs, a great group of women in Harrow who are supporting families with children on the cusp of joining gangs or getting involved in gang activities. We’ve been working with them to get a website up and running and looking at how social media and web tools can support get their message wider. (Facebook: Mothers Against Gangs, Twitter: @Mothers_Against)

Shelve It! 


The Shelve It! Porn Map

Shelve It! was launched in September last year and so far it’s had a great response. People in Birmingham and the West Midlands (not to mention Lancashire, Yorkshire, the North East and London to name but a few) have been rating their retailers’ displays of lads’ mags. Do they sell porn or lads’ mags? Are they in view of children? Can children reach them? 58 retailers have been added to the Shelve It! Porn Map and shared on social networking sites so far to name and shame irresponsible retailers and celebrate responsible retailers – which it appears there aren’t that many of. (Facebook: Shelve It! Birmingham, Twitter: @shelve_it)


But it won’t all stop there. While we’re now wrapping up the Digital Activism project, we’re hopeful that our campaigners will continue to campaign on the issues they’ve made great progress with so far. Keep an eye on them and please help them out.

Digital Activism Update

August 31, 2012

It’s been a while since we last blogged – three months to be exact – but it hasn’t been as relaxed on the work front. The projects we’re supporting as part of Digital Activism are moving along and, after the naturally quieter summer period, initial plans are starting to be realised.

Here is a brief update of how we’re supporting the Digital Activism communities to campaign and lobby for change through online tools.

We’re getting ready to launch a campaign with the Women’s Networking Hub in Birmingham to tackle the problematic displaying of lads’ mags in retailers. Shortly afterwards we will be starting a campaign, again with the Women’s Networking Hub, to raise awareness and capture the real picture of domestic violence in Birmingham.

In Leeds we’re planning our work with several older people on Leeds: A City for All Ages kicked off by May’s flashdance. We’re hoping to hit the streets of Leeds in October to start exploring the accessibility of Leeds and get the older people blogging using the written word, video or photography.

Closer to home, in Holloway progress is being made with a campaign to highlight alternatives to debt and high interest lenders, while promoting the local credit union. Interest in the Hackney CAB Crowdmap continues, with other CABs in London looking at running similar campaigns, and plans for more research into the availability of rental properties in London. While in Southwark we’re supporting the Southwark Organisers to develop websites and other communication tools to support strong, independent and active communities in a few areas of Southwark.

We also have a potential sixth community we will be starting work with soon, so should have more plans to share in the coming weeks. And, of course, we’ll share the campaigns, tools and learning as the work continues.


Shared Spaces: a tale of two grapevines

May 31, 2012

To mark the release of the final report from the Local 2.0 project (which you can download here), Diane Sims, who led on the project for Kirklees Council, has written a guest blog post about her work.

You can follow Diane on Twitter: @72prufrocks

Shared Spaces: A tale of two grapevines

A little over two years ago, I became one of the guardians of a scruffy patch of mud that was to grow into our community allotment. We inherited an expanse of horrible clay soil, punctuated by couch grass roots and shards of glass, plus the remains of two glasshouses – a precarious A-frame and something that had been knocked together from old window panes and was full of brambles.

We discovered that there was something else in that old greenhouse, a grapevine. It was the only thing growing on the site when we arrived, so that’s what we started with. A small bunch of novice gardeners grew small bunches of grapes that year (something that we never expected to be able to do), whilst struggling to grow allegedly-easy crops like potatoes. In the process, we learnt from our mistakes and we learnt from each other. We grew friendships, confidence and ideas.

Around the same time, I began working with the Young Foundation on the Local 2.0 project. We wanted to find out how we can use technology on a very local level to help connect people and find new ways of getting things done in our neighbourhoods. Our aim in Kirklees was to create shared spaces where residents, community organisations, councillors and frontline workers can all contribute what they know.

We worked with Newsome Ward Community Forum, a network of community groups supporting residents across a large ward in Huddersfield. At the beginning of the project, the group asked us to use technology in a way that would encourage people to get involved in their community. They wanted online activity to lead to offline participation. They also asked for us to make sure we included everyone. One resident told me: “this social media stuff is all very well, but what about those of us who struggle with email?” These two requests gave us a very clear direction.

We started some drop-in sessions where people could get together to help each other with all kinds of technology. People who had never used the internet came along to learn some basic computing skills, whilst those who were already using a computer brought along specific questions or practical tasks that they needed a bit of support with. Residents helped to run these sessions and got to know each other at the same time. And we got to hear about the ways that local groups are already communicating, so we could start to see how new technologies might fit in with that.

As with the allotment, we started with what was already there. We helped local groups and activists to create online content in whatever way suited them. This gave everyone freedom over their own information, and it helped us to see how different technologies can be used. For example:

•    Growing Newsome now have a text message mailing list for the community allotment, using a Huddersfield-made texting system called Thumbprint. We use it to let people know when there’s someone at the allotment, so that people can join in. Richard had his own allotment plot once but was driven away by vandals, so it took a lot for him to come back and work on the same site again. He suffers from depression and used to feel pressured when people called to ask him to come along. Phoning around everyone also took up a lot of time, which meant that sometimes not everyone got the information. Now, everyone gets the same text message – it’s quick and direct, and no-one is singled out.

•    A resident from a nearby sheltered housing complex came along to our drop-in sessions. He could only stay for half an hour each week, as he had to get back home to give his wife her medication. After meeting him, we applied for funding to get computers and wi-fi access set up at the sheltered housing scheme, along with other equipment which the residents wanted to try. David, a young man with learning disabilities, used the new laptop to run his own informal computer surgery in the lounge.

It’s not always the most obvious social media tools like facebook and twitter that appeal to people. It’s easy to overlook things like texting, which in Newsome has proved an important way of keeping people connected. Unless you start with each individual and find out their skills and interests, it’s also easy to overlook what each person can contribute. Running a computer surgery would be quite overwhelming for most people, so you might not expect a resident with learning disabilities to be able to do so much to help his neighbours. We didn’t expect the grapevine to grow either, but it did.

Later in the project, we began to join up all the content that local residents had already put online: blogs, photographs, text messages, calendars, videos and audio recordings. We created Newsome Grapevine, which weaves all these contributions together into a web site for the area, and sends information out by email, text and twitter to let others know what’s going on. The site isn’t something separate from the neighbourhood – it’s part of the community activity that goes on every day, and everyone has a share in it.

Reflecting on Local 2.0, we realised that together we’ve discovered some key aspects of this ‘shared spaces’ approach. We’re now keen for other communities to benefit from this understanding. We want to help people to learn about all the different tools they can use, but also to appreciate what they already have and to think about how technology fits in with that. So I’ve worked with Andrew Wilson from Thumbprint Co-operative to write a guide for community groups and activists in Kirklees.

We’ve called it ‘Shared Spaces: How to use all sorts of technology to help get things done in your neighbourhood.’  We’re interested to see what people make of it.

What we’ve also learnt is that the same things don’t necessarily work year on year. The rainy Spring this year has thrown our seed planting into disarray, so some of our crops are delayed. Some of the residents at the sheltered housing complex have passed away. Other residents are grieving or experiencing a deterioration in their own physical or mental health. The once popular Wii is now sitting unused in the lounge, the usual gang of four unable to play. What interested people last year may no longer be relevant – and we have to accept that. We are also welcoming new people to our community all the time, with their own circumstances, skills and ideas.

A new growing season is a bit like starting all over again. I used to feel daunted by the empty expanses of earth, with nothing growing there. But I’ve realised that the ground is full of the time that we’ve put into it through our work together – and because we’ve worked to prepare the ground, we can get things growing again more quickly. Having tried a few things, we’re better equipped to choose what to put where. We can also try new things because we know that we’re surrounded by people who will help us to figure it out.

My hope is that people in Newsome now feel the same way about using technology. We have learnt to recognise opportunities where technology can fit in with what we’re already doing. We grow lettuce in the gaps between our onions, and we take photographs everywhere we go. Sometimes we get mud on our cameras, but at least we don’t miss anything.

Diane Sims, Web Development Team, Kirklees Council.

Leeds Older People’s Forum Flashdance

May 25, 2012

Thursday 17th May was the day that the long awaited Leeds Older People’s Forum Flashdance took place. Despite the weather being cold and grey with some drizzle added in for good measure, visiting Leeds as a first-time day-tripper from London was made easy by the warm welcome from the local Age UK centre and the older people taking part.

The Leeds Older People Forum had worked so hard to make sure that the event passed without a hitch. Everyone involved was buzzing with excitement at the prospect of taking Leeds by surprise, and they were not disappointed! Smiles and laughter all round showed that this event meant more than just communicating a message of making Leeds a city for all ages. It was about doing something out of the ordinary and coming together with other people who care.

We Like to Boogie!

Lynne described how she hadn’t been able to visit the city centre for years. She said that using a wheelchair and living on her own were big barriers to her getting out and about in town. Being involved in the Flashdance gave her the encouragement to travel in, and is a clear example of why Leeds must pay more attention to making the city centre more accessible.

But a more accessible city isn’t just about making the city suitable for older people. It is about making it easier for everyone to travel into and move about the city with ease. This includes making it easier for families with pushchairs and young children to meet together, especially if they do not have access to a car. It is also about helping to support local shops and businesses by ensuring people can pop into the city centre and spend their money there.

Older people in Leeds do not want to be neglected. They want to continue to use the city they grew up shopping, meeting and working in. They love that it is a city that young people and students can come to, learn in and enjoy, but they want a share of the exciting new spaces being developed.

Many of the dancers explained how their confidence had grown and how they enjoy life to the full now that they have interesting things to try in their free time. Despite their concerns about accessibility, the flashdancers were keen to chat about how much they loved Leeds. Their passion for the city they live in translated into their excitement about being involved in the campaign.

The flashdance showed that older people need not be tucked up indoors, and that there is little to stop older people in Leeds doing this either. Getting a message out about making a city accessible is so much more powerful by demonstrating that older people can take on challenges we usually expect from younger people.

The flashmob trend shows that creativity and spontaneity can produce a big impact by using social media tools to spread the message quickly and easily. The success of the flashdance on the day was recognised by the likes of Gransnet supporting and retweeting the flashdance. The determination of a group of 60 older people in Leeds has reached out to thousands more people and all we can wonder is what they will be up to next. Watch this space…

And, if you want to learn how to do the Leeds Older People’s Forum Flashdance then click here for a tutorial video!


Post by Claire Bradnam, intern on the Building Local Activism project

Hackney CAB Crowdmap launched

May 4, 2012

We have been working with Hackney Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB) as part of our Digital Activism work for some time now.

When we started working with Catherine – a Social Policy Volunteer – at the CAB, she had set up a Crowdmap – a free web tool that allows you to crowdsource information and see it on a map and timeline – to start mapping the impact of the changes to housing benefit in Hackney.

But what are the changes and why map the impact?

From April 2011 onwards, a number of different changes to housing benefit have been coming into effect. These include: reducing the number of properties available to rent locally, removing the rate for self-contained accommodation, and capping the total amount available for a family.

Hackney CAB has seen an increasing number of people affected by these changes over recent months, with some residents facing housing benefit shortfalls, rent arrears, overcrowding, threatened eviction, and even homelessness.

The national newspapers have recently been reporting that a number of London boroughs are looking to re-locate many residents to other parts of the country where private rented accommodation is cheaper; whether it’s from Croydon to Hull or from Newham to Stoke, to name but two examples. But as yet, no one seems to have a completely clear picture of just how the changes are actually affecting claimants. And this is what Catherine and the team at Hackney CAB want to find out.

What does this mean for Hackney?

Initially, CAB Social Policy volunteers were capturing anonymised information from CAB advisers and inputting brief, unidentifiable data onto the Crowdmap to show cases. However, the team has been keen to ensure that as more and more Hackney residents are affected by the changes to housing benefit, they are able to quickly and easily share their own story and access support, while educating a wider audience on the issue.

And so, the Hackney CAB Crowdmap website was born and launched on Monday, sharing information on the changes and the impact on Hackney, and where people can access support. And, of course, allowing people to map the effect the changes are having on them.

What’s next?

It’s all very well having a website, but we need to ensure that people are willing and able to share their story. So we will be leafleting around Hackney to highlight the changes, direct residents to the website, and encourage people to help raise awareness by sharing information on how the changes are affecting them.

We will also be looking at text messaging and postal options to ensure those who aren’t online can still share their story, and will be assessing the availability of rented properties in Hackney to find out just how easy it is for people in receipt of housing benefit in Hackney to find a place to live.

We will keep you up to date with the work as it progresses.

In the meantime, you can of course keep an eye on the Hackney CAB Crowdmap website, ‘like’ the campaign on Facebook, and follow us on Twitter.

Our work with Women on this special International Women’s Day

March 8, 2012

Firstly, and perhaps most importantly, happy International Women’s Day.

Today is a day to celebrate women and the amazing contribution we make to society. And there are many of them. Today’s Guardian website is sharing an inspirational list of the ‘Top 100 women’. Women who have led countries, broken through glass ceilings and even been in space”.

Among the ‘Top 100’ are 20 women activists and campaigners. They include Franny Armstrong, founder of the 10:10 campaign to reduce the developed world’s carbon emissions by 10 per cent in 2010, and Director of The Age of Stupid, a film which follows a man living alone in a devastated 2055, watching archive footage and asking “Why didn’t we stop climate change when we had the chance?”. The 10:10 campaign has seen huge success, with thousands of businesses and institutions – including central government – pledging to cut their carbon emissions by 10 per cent. 10:10 is now active in more than 40 countries.

Also among them is civil servant Lisa Robinson who took a stand against 30 drunken male Cardiff City fans and a train driver in response to sexist abuse she was experiencing on a train. After failing to persuade the driver to stop the train and call the police twice, Lisa climbed on to the tracks and refused to move. She later told the BBC This is my community, this is my village. Women and families should be able to travel on the train in peace and quiet and go about their business without being bullied like that”. Women like Lisa are continuing to join the Hollaback campaign to end street harassment.

An inspirational campaigner from further afield is Kenyan born Professor Wangari Maathai. Wangari was Africa’s first female Nobel peace prize-winner and the first east African woman to hold a doctorate. She faced discrimination in the job market for being too ambitious for a woman. That ambition led her to start the Green Belt Movement in 1977, encouraging village women to plant trees to prevent deforestation and provide them with fuel. By March 2011 Kenyan women had planted 45 million trees. Wangari found herself jailed for calling a judge incompetent, and for protesting against President Daniel Arap Moi’s government. In 2002 she won a seat in parliament with 98% of the vote and founded the Mazingira Green Party of Kenya.


But what have these inspirational women to do with Digital Social Innovation?

Well, we’ve been working with Women’s Networking Hub in Birmingham as part of the Digital Activism project for a few months now. The Hub was founded and is coordinated by a very ambitious and inspirational local Birmingham woman – Shahida Choudhry – who wants to ensure that women in Birmingham and the West Midlands can come together and are empowered to take action of the issues that matter to them.

Within our work with the Women’s Networking Hub we have set ourselves a few aims:

  • create a dynamic website which brings women together, allowing them to campaign on issues that matter to them;
  • support women to run campaigns on issues that matter to them and to mobilise other women to join them;
  • use web tools to support women’s participation in campaigning; and
  • widen participation in the Hub, especially to underrepresented groups.

The Hub won a digital makeover from the Universities of Coventry and Nottingham, meaning the first aim is well underway, and the new website is due shortly. Shahida is keen for this to be a place where members can access campaigning resources, start and share their campaigns and invite others to join them, and build networks. Overall, Shahida sees the importance of an open and sage space where women from all backgrounds can come together, feel empowered and able to be themselves, and have a voice.

We’ll also soon be supporting some of the 1000 members to develop and deliver campaigns on the issues they feel strongly about.We recently asked members “what’s your problem?”, inviting them to submit their campaign ideas. And we had a great response; 18 women told us they had a problem with domestic violence, lads mags, sexual exploitation, inequalities in employment and opportunities, rape culture, and sexual stereotyping, amongst other issues.

We are now working with Shahida to support a few of the women to tackle these problems, and help them to look at how social media can help them do so. We hope to update you on the campaigns shortly.

People Power 2012: in tweets

March 7, 2012

Yesterday I was at People Power 2012, a one-day conference to bring campaigners and activists together with figures from the government, media and corporate world to share lessons from recent and not-so-recent campaigns.

Instead of taking notes, I joined in with the tweeting, using the event hashtag #pp12.

Below is a run down of People Power 2012 in @YF_Web tweets, in reverse chronological order as is the way with Twitter.

There’s some campaigning learning in there, including:

  • “The most important thing to do in climate change campaigning is to inform yourself.”
  • Be consistent in your demand with politicians; don’t change it between communications. That’ll undermine you, your campaign and your supporters.
  • When campaigning, think about the job digital tools are meant to do. Think how, why and what: HOW can it be used? WHY should you use it? WHAT will it add?
  • Freedom of Information requests can be very useful in backing up a campaign. But ensure an FOI request is unambiguous. For example, one request asked, ‘how many officials are men and how many are women?. The answer received: ‘all of them’.
  • To keep campaigning momentum up, it is important to keep going in the face of adversity, celebrate victories however big or small, and don’t rest on your laurels. The institutions you’re facing certainly won’t.
  • A combination of campaigning methods is vital. “It’s the combination of online and offline that will get us close to what we want.”


Conference close

Imagination and putting ourselves in others shoes is vital to campaign effectively – Vivienne Westwood #PP12

It is the avant garde. If one person in 100 is thinking, we need to make the most of people coming to us – Vivienne Westwood #PP12

Vivienne Westwood realised you have to think of everything and tackle every element. #PP12

Get a Life – campaign on climate change for next generation and to help us to not be just consumers – Vivienne Westwood #PP12

Most important thing to do in climate change campaigning is to inform yourself – Vivienne Westwood #PP12

 Inspirational speech with Q&A – Dame Vivienne Westwood

RT @lucypearceox 540 organisations means 540 roots to the tree and also 540 branches. Strength & fragility. Make Poverty History’s legacy. #pp12

#makepovertyhistory Seized distinctive moment in history to ensure that moment was famous, understood and opportunity #PP12

RT @reubenturner 7m people wore white wristbands. Wow. #makepovertyhistory #pp12

2005 make poverty history campaign involved street sign ups with people crossing road to get to campaigners rather than avoid #PP12

Be consistent in your demand with politicians – don’t change it in between communications #PP12 advice from Kirsty McNeill

Make poverty history was experiment in working together – with over 500 organisations #PP12

Now the two final sessions at #pp12 with panel discussion on Make Poverty History and a closing speech from Vivienne Westwood

The legacy of Make Poverty History – Adrian Lovett, European Director, ONE; Deborah Doane, Director, World Development Movement; Glen Tarman, Head of Advocacy, BOND; Kirsty McNeill, Founder of Themba Consultancy; Chaired by Ruchi Tripathi, Senior Programme Manager, Resilient Livelihoods

Flickr – may be more for people really into photography. Quick access for photos often done through Tumblr or Twitter #PP12 #no2hype

Pinterest potential for campaigning/marketing from @mashable – #PP12 #no2hype

RT @allthatkatydid @henrymack @londoncharlotte @fairsay An overflowing pool will undoubtedly become a waterfall – work on both for now. #pp12 #no2hype

Being introduced to Stardoll – – number one referring site for @fairsay‘s website #PP12 #no2hype

Need to think about each social media type and its target, use, options etc. To use what fits the campaign and mix and match #PP12 #no2hype

RT @kathchristie3 If u tweet as a polar bear u get more followers than if u do as @wwf. Fact or fiction? #pp12 #no2hype

RT @wordbirdwrites Long term behaviour change – look at the best voice for your message, not necessarily you #pp12

Twitter – fast moving waterfall, Facebook – slow moving river, email – pool that gets fuller with no guarantee you’ll see it #PP12 #no2hype

Twitter – good for promoting, collecting, aggregating. Can allow people to bring campaign info together under one hashtag #PP12#no2hype

Facebook isn’t necessarily great for campaigning. Not main reason people are on FB. But can allow for profile. #PP12 #no2hype

RT @thegoodagency RT @londoncharlotte: Here’s that Milkshake article: those in @fairsay session #pp12

When campaigning, think about job tool is meant to do. What do people use it for? Different uses. Think how, what and why. #PP12#no2hype

Citizens are good at getting through the marketing. Want to talk ‘with’ people not be talked ‘at’ #PP12 #no2hype

News stories about what editor will publish not what’s good for planet. ‘new’ is sexier than reliable #PP12 #no2hype

RT @thegoodagency Sitting in @fairsay session: “Distinguishing Hype from Reality – evaluating digital tools that matter”. Will be interesting. #pp12

So many tools to use and in campaigning we often use too many. Need to think about where want to go and audience – @fairsay #PP12 #no2hype

What digi tools should we use? Not necessarily just what everyone else is using #PP12 #no2hype

 Distinguishing hype from useful trends in e-campaigning Duane Raymond, Digital Activist, Fair Say (hashtag #no2hype)

RT @drivingequality #PP12 ‘speaking truth to power’ voice must b powerful but independent. Truth must b grounded in democratic legitimacy. #activism

RT @drivingequality #PP12 ‘speaking truth to power’ know your target group and ensure robust evidence base, without compromising your campaign #activism

Good way to view and make FOI requests is via @mysociety‘s what do they know? #PP12 tip from @campaignfoi

Q. what’s tactic for ensuring no ridiculous FOI requests? A. FOI request for zombie attack on Leicester doesn’t take long to answer #PP12

Talk to FOI officers to get feel of what is accessible and what isn’t through FOI act. Many will be helpful. Tips from @campaignfoi #PP12

RT @thegoodagency Private emails are subject to FOI act – but over ruled by Cabinet Office as “can’t search private computer”. #pp12

Q. Do you think there’ll be growing culture of evasion? E.g. Gove using wife’s email. A. Is Work on own computer subject to FOI? YES! #PP12

Q. How has war gone over last 15 years? Any worries? A. Never thought FOI act would come in. Been effective but delays are problem #PP12

RT @thegoodagency Year on year increase in FOI requests since act came into force in 2005. #pp12

RT @fairsay: FOI presentation by – great stuff! #PP12

RT @speakupduck@fairsay: FOI eg: BAA invented ‘green jumbo’ to counter anti-3rd-runway & FOI request revealed no plans to build it #pp12″

Ensure FOI request is unambiguous. Don’t ask ‘how many officials men and how many women?’ One FOI officer answered ‘all of them’ #PP12

FOI requesters need to think like bureaucrats to ask for info available. Limit of £600 (24hr) for nat Govt and £450 (18hr) local #PP12

Simple FOI requests can prove something not working. E.g. Council cracking down on dog mess, FOI request can show fines (not) issued. #PP12

FOI is for obtaining recorded information not for opinion #PP12

Can use FOI to test accuracy and view previous meetings, lobby opposing interests, as research tool and for case histories #PP12

FOI can help document problem campaign is dealing with and show authorities’ shortcomings and demonstrate merits of case #PP12

About to hear about how FOI can be used as campaigning tool at People Power conference #pp12

Freedom of Information as a campaigning toolMaurice Frankel, Director, Campaign for Freedom of Information

Q. how do you keep campaigning momentum up? A. Just need to keep going, celebrate victories and don’t sit back. Institutions won’t #PP12

Q.How did Trade unions react to campaign? A.Had to engage trade unions. Can’t get support of Unite & GMB with most workers at Heathrow #PP12

Q. Is it easier to build coalition against than for? A. For local people prob easier to get coalition against as need highly motivated #PP12

Q. Mistakes from no 3rd runway campaign? Disappointed in numbers at demo. Expected many more than 3000. Too few can be damaging #PP12

For more info on our #digitalactivism work to support communities to campaign using digi tools visit #PP12

We’re at People Power Conference today tweeting about campaigning and learning for our #digitalactivism #ppchange work #PP12

Involving celebs can really help campaign. Get prominent people involved – Cameron has tree on land bought against 3rd runway #pp12

Diverse activities can help keep issue on agenda and get press coverage – John Suaven, Greenpeace #pp12

NIMBY approach leads to fighting with two hands behind back and Govt can divide and connquer. Need to collaborate – John Stewart #pp12

Key to tackle myths into debate to help influence decision makers in campaigning #pp12 e.g. No 3rd runway tackled economic myths from Govt

RT @thegoodagency: John Sauven – not just an ‘anti’ campaign but also about promoting alternative solutions & economic viewpoints. #PP12

RT @fairsay @auerfeld citizens and activists should be the same thing. It doesn’t matter who starts a protest – the timing is the key. #pp12

… Needed common aim for individuals – diversity of issues became strength rather than issue for no third runway campaign #pp12

Diversity of reasons for people involved in no third runway campaign – noise, climate change, community disruption #pp12

Hearing from Greenpeace on No Third Runway campaign #pp12 – lesson no1 is people need to have sufficient power to challenge power of Govt

How the West was won – Lessons from the No Third Runway Campaign
John Sauven, Executive Director, Greenpeace UK in conversation with John Stewart, Chair, HACAN ClearSkies, chaired by Juliette Jowit, Senior Writer, The Guardian and The Observer

“It’s the combination of online and offline that will get us close to what we want” – salil shetty, amnesty international #pp12

RT @londoncharlotte: Gladwell’s article “The revolution will not be tweeted” is now merely an historic curiosity – salil shetty. #PP12

RT @thegoodagency “if you have a complaint, why not put it on our Facebook page?” Egyptian military intelligence general to Amnesty #pp12

Key Note Speech, including Q&A – People Power: Getting to the heart of the matter – Salil Shetty, Secretary General, Amnesty International

At #pp12 to hear about great campaigning. Sitting with Wythenshawe campaigner award winner from Manchester. Great ideas.

Start of conference (hashtag #pp12)

Reactivating Holloway

March 5, 2012

The Digital Activism strand of Building Local Activism has us also in Holloway in Islington, North London. We are supporting Holloway Neighbourhood Group (HNG) to use social media to connect and to galvanise Holloway residents to take charge of their community, to campaign for local issues which matter to them both online and offline, and to help deepen Hollowayers’ sense of place.

Within the last few months, HNG has been detecting an air of change and excitement along the Holloway Road, as the endless possibilities of digital tools are slowly becoming the talk of the beautiful and historic community centre, the Fire Station. The foundation for a new digital age of activism has begun in Holloway.

HNG is about to launch its own hyperlocal website, which will be the hub of digital activism in the area. Not only will it be a forum for distributing information, but with the right level of support provided in partnership with Media Trust, residents will have the opportunity to contribute to the website’s content and become empowered as ‘citizen journalists’. They will be invited to share views and opinions and organise campaigns around issues which matter to them.

A main drive in our Digital Activism strand of work is the development of learning tools for residents to become confident in using digital technology, from email and blogging, to social networking sites like Facebook. As we have mentioned in previous posts, the rise of social media is well documented and often illustrated through a series of remarkable facts such as:

  • Each Facebook user spends an average of 15 hours 33 minutes on the site each month.
  • YouTube generates 92 billion page views per month.
  • Twitter is adding half a million users each day.

The popularity of social media offers tremendous scope to support community action and lobbying for change, whilst equally generating wider interest from locals in the community. Traditional community development and organising can now take advantage of a variety of free, widely used communication tools to complement offline community activity.

Around the country, this has already taken on a variety of shapes, sizes and issues. From protecting green spaces in Richmond and Kingston to saving Lewisham’s library, local communities are increasingly seeing the benefit of digital activism in mobilising support and communicating their concern.

Despite the proposed tools and increasing use of social media, in our recent surveying of Holloway residents, visitors and workers, a total of 31% revealed they do not use the internet, so the importance of engaging people offline is equally vital.  The survey also identified some key issues facing residents in their community including homelessness; unemployment; crime; loan sharks; youths, gangs and antisocial behaviour; park and green spaces; and litter and cleanliness.

As HNG was born out of activism in the 1970s, there was an excitement at a recent trustees meeting, at the prospect of reengaging Holloway with local issues. They were equally thrilled at the role digital tools could play in mobilising the Holloway masses.  Examples such as the nearby Save Walthamstow Cinema campaign demonstrated how both online and offline activism can work effectively alongside each other and galvanise community spirit.

Through Spacehive, a funding platform for neighbourhood improvement projects, a proposal has already been drawn up to tackle the lack of green space in Holloway. Holloway Neighbourhood Group is looking to improve the space outside the local leisure centre and will provide another platform to engage the community and raise the profile of Holloway.

Holloway has a proven army of keen gardeners as seen in the recent short film ‘Wild Places’ for the ‘Film in a Day’ worshop as part of the Reel Islington Film Festival.

Reflecting on the survey work, the trustees were particularly drawn to the problem of loan sharks and money lenders in the area and were buoyed by the Church Action on Poverty campaign in Manchester against the moneylenders Brighthouse. They want to explore similar options for Holloway.

The meeting concluded with a real buzz of optimism and excitement.  The next stage is for us to work closely with the Chief Executive of HNG to devlop ideas for campaigns using online and offline methods, to give the community the voice it deserves.

Watch this space, as undoubtedly more exciting developments will get underway in Holloway in the upcoming weeks and months.

N7 by Nicobobinus on Flickr

Leeds older people up and blogging

March 1, 2012

We have been working with Leeds Older People’s Forum since summer last year, and despite a few setbacks when it came to the flashdance (back in production), things have quickened pace of late and are moving on.

Back in late 2011 I met Adam Perry from Media Trust at a Big Lottery People Powered Change workshop. We got talking about our respective work programmes, and when I realised he was a Leeds resident and he heard we were working with Leeds Older People’s Forum, we were sure there must be a way to link up.

The older people we’re working with at Leeds Older People’s Forum have been, from the off, very keen to improve their knowledge and skills of digital tools such as social networking, blogging and video to support the campaigning activities they are planning. So when Adam mentioned Media Trust’s newsnet – a UK-wide community of citizen journalists, community reporters and local storytellers – and his interest in training people to become citizen journalists, there seemed a natural fit.

So Rachel, Development Officer at Leeds Older People’s Forum, and Adam discussed options and set up two training courses to support awareness raising of older people’s issues in Leeds.

The first, Hitting the Headlines, was one two-and-a-half hour session for staff from local Leeds organisations that support older people. The aim was to help them understand the media and news cycle and how to publicise their organisation and local issues to and through the media.

The second was a four-week training course on Digital Media for Older People. Each weekly two-and-a-half hour session was to focus on a different element of digital media – social media (Facebook and Twitter), blogging and shooting and using video.

The group was quite mixed – mostly female (seven to two), but ranging from 50 (the Administrator from Leeds Older People’s Forum) to 81 (a resident in sheltered housing in Pool). Each participant had at least one barrier to overcome. For some that was a concern about privacy or a lack of confidence, and for others it was a feeling of who’s going to bother to read what I put online? At the beginning it seemed like there was some work to do to convince this group of older people that using digital tools is easy, as involving as you want it to be, and a great way to get your voice heard.

So when I arrived for the final of the four Digital Media for Older People training sessions on Tuesday I was very pleasantly surprised to see everyone with their own fully functioning WordPress blog. And within minutes of arriving at the training session they were all logged on to their sites and practicing their new skills of posting blogs, complete with pictures and YouTube videos, and talking about what they’re planning for their blogs after the training.

After an hour of helping the new bloggers find their way through any minor hiccups, Adam moved the group on to filming. Many campaigns elsewhere have used videos to highlight concerns (e.g. Kilburn Older Voices Exchange (KOVE) uses videos to raise awareness on a number of issues faced by older people) and our partners at Leeds Older People’s Forum are keen to explore how video can help their campaigning activity. But with video editing being time consuming and tricky Adam thought it important to teach the participants the basics of shooting an interview which can go straight onto their blogs without any editing. So in groups of three they set about it. Please see the below a (quickly hashed together) video for some clips of them in action.

But what’s next? Well, the Scanning Group at Leeds Older People’s Forum, which is leading the campaign activity, is meeting on Monday to discuss next steps. But it seems the flashdance will be the excellent kick-start to a campaign for Leeds: a city for all ages using a variety of media to share a range of older people’s voices. And we definitely have a group of nine older people from across Leeds very willing and eager to use their new digital media skills to get those voices heard.