Framework sections highlighted: Listening, Reach

Learning journey for Brixton community organisers

Twelve newly trained community organisers listened to more than 200 people in just three days during March 2018, as part of a peer research project delivered by High Trees Community Development Trust, a community organising Social Action Hub in Lambeth.

The project was supported by the Greater London Authority (GLA), training a group of local people to listen to young Black men under the age of 25 and older Black, Asian, Minority Ethnic people over the age of 65 to establish what the impact Brixton’s rapidly changing social landscape has had on these previously established communities.

The three-day listening campaign connected with people in Brixton about issues of redevelopment and gentrification of the area. The results were shared at City Hall and a documentary capturing the journey of the new community organisers, also known as ‘Peer researchers’, was produced.

There was also a celebratory community event held at the local adventure playground where the project was shared with the wider community. The listening results revealed some hugely powerful and often personal issues around inclusion, exclusion and identity. The aim of this event was to create a space for those that had been listened to, to come together and explore what they could do to address some of the issues they face collectively. High Trees are continuing to support these local people.

Despite many of these topics being very sensitive, the listening training had paid off, with one trainee commenting on how forthcoming those he listened to were with their views.

The stand out thing for me was that, if you get someone to stop, they will pour it out. You only have to ask them one question and they’ll give you everything, and I think that’s just incredible to see.

The experience was not without its challenges, particularly given the tight timescale of the project. Graham Weston, community organiser and the Social Action Hub Service Coordinator at High Trees, described the project as a ‘learning journey’.

“We have seen massive growth and personal development of the Peer researchers that we recruited, trained and supported to practice community organising. Seeing them overcoming the same sorts of challenges that we experienced when we were starting our journey, in an even shorter amount of time, and the impact of the work they have done has been really inspirational.”

The team is now looking into continuing with the analysis of the data so it can be made public and be used by the whole community. Graham also sees this project as marking the beginning of a more collaborative relationship with the GLA, who are now interested in finding out more about how community organising can inform their work, and how they can better enable communities that are organising in the area.


If you've got a great story about community organising and the positive impact it is having in your community we would love to hear from you.