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Working to build capacity for local campaigning

The Women’s Budget Group ran a two-day campaigning skills workshop in partnership with Platform 51 (an organisation working with young women, now known as the Young Women’s Trust).

The women who attended the workshop were all interested in campaigning, but did not have shared goals. So, the workshop started by using a mapping exercise to help the women think through the issues that were most important to them. A range of issues were highlighted by the women including:

  • Unemployment and the difficulty finding paid work.
  • Crime and anti-social behaviour.
  • Education for their children.
  • Lack of support for mental health problems.
  • Lack of facilities for young people in the area.
  • Public transport which was expensive and didn’t go where women needed to go.
  • Heavy traffic.
  • Problems faced by disabled children in accessing services.
  • Wanting to support local groups and projects which they or their children attended.

Once the women had thought about their own issues, they shared their main priorities with the group. The whole group then looked at the long list of issues to find the ones that were shared by several group members. From this discussion they agreed to work on funding for affordable activities for children and young people locally, with a particular focus on the needs of disabled young people. They felt that this issue caused a lot of other problems that affected them, including crime, bullying, and family tensions as children were forced to stay in-doors all the time.

Between the first and second one-day workshop, participants carried out a local survey to find out the views of other women in their area. On the second day WBG trainers explained how to find out about local council officials and elected councillors, and helped the group frame their messages.

This workshop was successful because it focused on the priorities of the participants, rather than trying to impose a set of priorities onto them. This meant that participants were motivated to come back for a second day to talk about how to turn those priorities into ideas for a local campaign. From the experience of these workshops WBG produced ‘Making Your Voice Heard’, a toolkit for local campaigning.