Building Local Activism for People Powered Change

In this first post from a partner in the Big Lottery Fund’s People Powered Change, Mandeep Hothi explains the innovative work that the Young Foundation will be doing – and sharing – using the power of digital media and building on established methods of organising.
The Young Foundation is a centre for social innovation based in Bethnal Green, East London. We bring together insights, innovation and entrepreneurship to meet social needs and through People Powered Change, we are working across the country to help people become more active in their communities.
We are doing this through two distinct projects.
Through our Digital Activism project we are supporting community organisations in Hackney, Holloway, Leeds and Birmingham to campaign and encourage local activism through social media.  There are lots of great examples of this at the national or international level, such as 38 Degrees and, and we think it has great potential at the local level.
We’re still working on firming up what campaigns we’ll be working on, but they are likely to include issues like housing benefit cuts, care home standards and city centre accessibility.
As well as helping these organisations, we’ll be sharing our learning and top tips about how to effectively use web, social media and tools like text messaging for local activism.
Our first top tip from this work is to not forget about emails! Even though Facebook and Twitter grab the headlines, good old email is still incredibly effective at informing people – especially if they are clearly written. We hope to elaborate more on things like writing good local campaigning emails as we go along and share examples from our work.
The second project is called Scaling Proven Models. We are helping three organisations– Church Action on Poverty, Citizens UK and People Can (formerly the Novas Scarman Group) – to scale their model of working with communities into new areas of the country.
These organisations have a history of high quality work with disempowered communities. Church Action on Poverty and Citizens UK are experts at Saul Alinsky style Community Organising, whilst People Can has a long history of asset-based community development.
Each organisation will be growing into two new areas of the country. In the process, we will help to ensure that their work is sustainable so that it can continue beyond the lifetime of this project, and that they are able to further scale across the UK.
We’ll also be sharing our learning from this strand of work, particularly around how organisations can sustain or scale their work with communities and how some of the more difficult outcomes of community work – such as better relationships or increased confidence – can be measured.
There will be loads more to share over time too, but in the meantime please do ask if you have any questions.

  1. I should have also included a link to our blog, where we mostly be sharing learning from our Digital Activism work. You can check it our here:

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