History of our organisation

Community Organisers was formed in 2015, as part of the original Community Organisers Programme, to act as the national training and membership body for community organising in England.

The roots of our organisation go back to 2011 and the launch of the original programme that trained and hosted 500 full-time community organisers in neighbourhoods across England.

2011 – 2015: The original Community Organisers Programme

The Community Organisers Programme was a four-year national training programme that began in 2011, designed and run by Locality and funded by the Cabinet Office. The programme was run with several partners, including the key training partner, RE:generate.

The programme ended in summer 2015, but a legacy organisation – The Company of Community Organisers (COLtd) – was formed to support the ongoing training and development of community organisers.

2015 – 2016: Connecting with Community Rights

Between 2015 and 2016, COLtd supported 27 neighbourhood projects to connect with the Localism Act (including Neighbourhood Planning and the Community Right to Bid) helping thousands of residents to get involved in new ways in their communities.

Projects included community-led responses to housing, listing assets of community value and supporting local people to get involved for the first time in neighbourhood planning.

2017 – 2020: Delivering the Community Organisers Expansion Programme

In 2017, Community Organisers secured a major £4.2m contract from the Office for Civil Society – part of the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport – to expand the network of people involved with community organising from 6,500 to 10,000 by 2020. This ambitious expansion increased the numbers of people engaged in community organising across England and enabled people to take greater control of their neighbourhoods and create strong, resilient communities that work for everyone.

This programme trained nearly 4,000 people and created a network of Social Action Hubs that together form the National Academy of Community Organising.

2020-now: Delivering through a pandemic funded by contracts and donations

400+ people have been introduced to community organising online and we had record figures at our National Event 2020 with 509 people joining an online 3 day learning event.

We have 15 Social Action hubs affiliated to us and delivering our training.

Our membership recommitment has meant we have 500 members and a network of nearly 2000 people involved in the movement to bring about change in our communities.

We also have 100+ organisations signed up to the #OperationWiFi campaign that is pushing for a national databank and is reaching over 10k people a month.

We are in the process of exploring the potential for a National Apprenticeship in Community Organising.