It’s likely that there are lots of things you’d like to see changed in the world. You might be concerned about unnecessary plastic packaging, the ethics of fast fashion or the gender pay gap. You could accept the world it is or you could get out there and make a change!
After working on the team that brought in Lucy’s Law, Vanessa Holburn wrote ‘How To Be An Activist’ so that everyone could create a similarly successful social campaign. Here are some questions to help kickstart your activism:
- What exactly do you want to change?
Identify what you want to achieve – and be as specific as you can. Analyse exactly what needs to be different to allow permanent change to happen again and again. Do you need to change existing laws or regulations, implement a ban or do you need to change beliefs and behaviours through education? What would the ideal end point be for your campaign? Decide now what your main objective is and then you can plot a path to achieve it.
- What is standing in your way?
Now that you know what needs to change, ask yourself how must change happen? What are the barriers to change and why doesn’t this happen already? Is this a matter for the local council or the government? Is it a funding or budgeting issue? Are there legal restrictions? Do you need to tackle the head of an organisation or a commercial enterprise? Who is the correct person or people or governing body that you must convince to change?
- Who will make up your tribe?
Who will benefit from the change/s you will bring? Is it one demographic of people or more? A local community or a national one? These people will become your supporters, and you will need to mobilise them to sign petitions, take part in direct action and help you raise funds . It’s important to bring together all interested parties and use the support, knowledge and skills they can offer. Don’t be afraid to share your personal experience with these people. You cannot last the distance without a team behind you and you will discover people that are as committed to your cause as you are.
- Are you approaching this professionally?
Approach your activism and advocacy in the same way as you would any other serious project, so get organised and make a plan. Outline your goals, identify key messages and outline the steps you need to take. Decide which influencers you must reach, and list the strengths and weaknesses you and your supporters have. Put a structure in place for your campaign, assign responsibilities, document evidence, have meetings and keep the minutes and other useful paperwork in order. It’s not enough to be right, you have to be effective.
- Do you have all the information you need?
To support your ideas you will need to hone your research skills and learn where to look for the facts and evidence that will convince people to support and make change. Learn about the factors and processes that affect the structures that are currently in place and speak to those that change will impact. Look to charities and organisations to supply data and stats. Become familiar with your right to send Freedom of Information requests to public sector organisations such as the police, government departments, schools and health trusts. Well-researched information will bring people on side and add to your authority.
To buy the book How to Be an Activist: A Practical guide to organising, campaigning and making change happen by Vanessa Holburn click here!