We do not promote or teach a specific model of community organising. Our community organising experience comes from the work of 500 full-time community organisers trained and hosted in neighbourhoods all round England between 2011 and 2015. And under the Community Organisers Expansion Programme since 2015, we have trained thousands of other people in community organising up and down the country.
It is primarily a neighbourhood-based approach to community organising, which begins with knocking on doors and listening deeply to the concerns and motivations of people about their lives and communities. However, the approach can also be applied in other settings, for example within communities-of-interest – such as private renters, a migrant community or young people, where listening might take place in other settings such as schools, high streets or community centres.
The aim is the same in all cases: to bring together people with shared interests, help them to develop their confidence and sense of collective power, identify common goals and develop a strategy to achieve them – and motivate them to act together to achieve their goals and build their power. The action they take may be to something they can achieve themselves through working together, or it may involve campaigning for a change of policy or law. These actions are collectively described as social action – organised activity that seeks to improve human welfare, deepen civic culture and develop group life and commitment to others.
The approach we teach is based on common principles drawn from community organising approaches developed both in the UK and abroad. These principles are enshrined in our “Community organising principles of practice“.
What I like about community organising is that it looks at what you've got, not what you haven’t. Organising holds that fundamental thought, it’s about positive reinforcement. It isn’t a quick fix process - here the full organising process took two years.
Definition of social action
Social Action is the collective effort to improve people’s well-being, deepen democracy and develop community life and commitment to others. It involves the building of networks and relational power (the power of people working together), the facilitation of collective action and the cultivation of a just and caring society.