Published 31st January 2023

Organising across Europe: Establishing Relationships and Mapping our Learning

Since April '22, with support from the National Lottery Community Fund, Community Organisers have been working with organisations from across Europe to explore how community organising can be supported, developed, and sustained across Europe.

To find out more about the different forms of community organising that is taking place across Europe and the organisations we are working with take a look at our interactive map, which has their full details.

As part of this work, we have started to develop a ‘Learning Lab’ that promotes exchange and learning and develops the relationships between those involved with the practice of community organising.

The Learning Lab focuses on three areas:

Strengthening networks and relationships:

This aims to provide the foundation for learning and collective action and so far, has included or will include:

– Online learning exchanges with members of Community Organisers and the European Community Organisers Network – we will be attending their Annual Conference in Slovakia in February and Members from Community Organisers also attended their Citizen’s Participation Unit in Hungary last July.

– In-person learning exchanges to organisers across Europe so we can learn from each other and work directly together (so far, we have visited Hungary, Germany, France, and Sweden and made connections with organisations and individuals involved in community organising). We also hope to host people in the UK who can learn from us.

– A European Learning Exchange which will bring community organisers from across England and Europe together for 3/4 days to share ideas and build solidarity – this is being planned for the summer.

Building an evidence base of what works in community organising

This is aimed at leveraging better resourcing for the field and includes:

– Convening funders and grassroots organisations to identify how the fields of philanthropy and organising can work together to achieve shared objectives – we brought together Members of European Community Foundation Initiative and various organisations from across Europe to see how Community Foundations can better use community organising in their practice and support us in ours.

– Building an evidence base that demonstrates the value of investing in the process of organising (i.e., consciousness-raising, conflict-resolution and building trust and power), as well as the outcomes (i.e. campaigns, projects, and initiatives). We have run 4 different webinars covering topics such as “Building Community Resilience” “Comparing Different Approaches to Community Organising” and “Community Organising and Young People” and have upcoming webinars around “Digital Organising” and “Organising in Rural Communities” and it is our intention to collaborate on a document looking at different approaches to community organising, exploring the process, and building a picture of what works. We have also produced “A Guide to Recruiting a Community Organising” with various case-studies from the UK and this will be published in February.

Developing best practice guidance on how grassroots groups are collaborating on issues of collective concern

This aims to foster cross border joint action and includes:

– Enabling groups who are acting together on issues such as climate change, the digital divide and cost of living to share the work that they are doing and encourage further collaboration and learning. We have held 4 networking meetings bringing people together to discuss areas for development and joint working and are already seeing themes and questions emerge in these sessions around:

  • how to build personal and community resilience, particularly in migrant and refugee communities and
  • how community organising can strengthen democracy during the rise of the Far Right across parts of Europe.

The final aspect of this project will be a co-produced development strategy which sets out how the network will be sustained, including through creating ongoing learning and development opportunities. This will be used to attract further investment in the work.

Below are the organisations that we have worked with so far and who you will find on the interactive map:

Ahang – Hungary

Alliance Citoyenne – France

CATU – Ireland

CKA – Hungary

Common Thing Foundation – Poland

Community Organising Italia – Italy

DICO – Germany

DigiDemLab – Sweden

Forum Community Organising – Germany

Foundation for Social Change and Inclusion – Across Europe

Leading Change Network – Across Europe

Living Rent – Scotland

Nurture Development – Across Europe

Okatars – Hungary

Organisez-Vous – France

School for Public Life – Hungary

Serbia On The Move – Serbia

Social Change Initiative – Northern Ireland

Starting Point – England

TCC – Wales

We The Root – Spain

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