Framework sections highlighted: Connect, Organise, Power

Training young community organisers

At Community Organisers we believe passionately that everyone – no matter how young or how old – has the right to the tools and skills to help effect change for good in their communities and lives. That’s why we launched our Young Community Organisers Programme in 2018.

The young, free to act on their initiative, can lead their elders in the direction of the unknown… The children, the young, must ask the questions that we would never think to ask, but enough trust must be re-established so that the elders will be permitted to work with them on the answers.
Margaret Mead, American cultural anthropologist (1901-1978).

Community Organisers are working with ten partners throughout England to train a team of young organisers in each of the ten areas.  Here is a flavour of the reasons why some got involved:

For Barrow Hill Community Trust in Chesterfield, it provides an opportunity to recapture a sense of community and for that to include everyone who lives in the village.  “We love the approach of community organising and feel that our young people have the most chance of enabling the rebirth of our village.  All ages in the village will talk to them as they have not yet become cynical.  They are keen on the village and all of the people in it having a great future too, but they need skills to enable it. We want to help them get those skills.”

Thames Ward in Barking is the site of London’s largest housing development – Barking Riverside – where 10,800 new homes are being built amid unprecedented growth and redevelopment for the wider area. Our partner, Thames Ward Community Project says: “We believe that the combination of a particularly young population, living in a very deprived part of London and the country, but surrounded by growth and investment on an unprecedented scale represents a unique opportunity for local young people to be trained in community organising to be able to develop a strong voice in shaping the future of the area.”

For our partner in Colchester, African Families in the UK (AFIUK), “there’s a need for organisers on the ground.  No social movement has ever succeeded without organising people.  We have realized that power responds only to power; and without money power, people power is all we have!  So, we hope that Community Organisers will help us train our youth.”

Children learn how to make good decisions by making decisions, not by following directions.
Alfie Kohn, American author and lecturer in the areas of education, parenting, and human behavior.

Training began in some areas in December 2018 with the Introduction to Community Organising one-day course and is going well.  Trainers are loving working with amazing young people aged 13 up to 21.  Partners are excited about the work and its potential.

“We have a solid group of 17 sixth-formers who are really engaged.  Their reflections were really powerful – realising they can make change if they work together, that they share experiences with their peers they didn’t ever speak about but now realise it’s really important to speak about, that they have a language to talk about their realities now, that community organising is first about listening and then about doing, which they didn’t expect.”

“I just wanted to share some feedback from the initial session between David and some of our young people.  They seemed really engaged in the session and up for continuing which is great news.  I think the main issues that they are thinking in their communities are relating to the drug use in the area and racism issues.”

“Well done to the young people of Barrow Hill, Chesterfield who have worked so hard over the past couple of Saturdays and have now completed their Introduction to Community Organising course.  They’ve only just begun …they can’t wait to get out into their community to engage more young people into community organising, as well as enthuse adults into action to support them to achieve wider change for the area.  They are all looking forward to the Listening Skills module in later in 2019.  Amazing, fearless, inventive young people of Barrow Hill, I’m so looking forward to contributing to the next step of your Community Organising Journey!”

“African Families in the UK hosted an extremely exciting, exceptional, extraordinary, empowering day at Townhouse Colchester.  21 young people came together for the Introduction to Community Organising training.”

“So proud of our young people learning how to become community organisers.  Some great ideas of how they want to tackle some difficult social issues in their communities.  Good things to come!”

This world demands the qualities of youth: not a time of life but a state of mind, a temper of the will, a quality of imagination, a predominance of courage over timidity, of the appetite for adventure over the love of ease.
Robert Kennedy, U.S. Senator (1925-1968)

Young people are our future.  With both levels of trust in politicians and levels of voting dropping, we have to do much more to make sure that our future citizens feel that they can engage in democracy and that they have the means to be listened to; to gain some power and to be able to take action to change the things they care about.

For more information about the Youth Programme – or to talk to us about training young people – please contact Naomi Diamond
t: 07591 207 066

Interested in training?

Inspired to find out more about community organising or want to further develop your understanding and practice. Get in touch with us and we will connect you in with one of our many training opportunities

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