Toolkit for Action

By Chris W on October 27, 2016

Steve Whiting of the Turning the Tide programme and Jo Hynes, Economics, Sustainability & Peace Network Coordinator, reflect on this month’s launch of the Toolkit for Action.

healing and putting right, and we respond differently to different issues. Some feel their strongest response when they realise the tragedy of eco-destruction, or animal cruelty. Some weep inside over torture and other human rights abuses. Some feel their deepest hurt about poverty and an economic system that impoverishes and kills millions. Others have a knot of fear for future generations under the threat of nuclear weapons and the business of war. We all have our different triggers of empathy that connect us to the world and one another. This is a spiritual process.

If we take heed to these promptings and leadings, which spring from the love and truth in our hearts, we are surely led to act. It could be to donate to or volunteer with a charity that supports those who suffer, or it could be to actively support groups and organisations working to address the causes of that suffering.

Addressing the causes of suffering, injustice and violence is work we call social change, and words like “activist” and “campaigner” are used to describe people doing this. But these words can put some people off, and we take different meanings from them. How many times have we heard someone say “I’m not an activist” and then find out they write to their MP, sign petitions, help out on a stall, attend public vigils, provide food at events and demonstrations?

And why do we take action? What’s our purpose? It’s helpful to be clear about our own motivations, our reason for doing this. Am I content simply to make a personal statement, or witness to my own truth? Do I want a response from someone? What kind of response, and from whom? Do I want to know this response? Do I want to help change happen?

If we pay close attention to our spiritual lives, we might ask why we have these deep, inner promptings that lead us to take action for justice and peace. The obvious answer is that something powerful is urging us to change things. The obvious next question then is: how do we know if we’re changing anything? What difference are we making? Is it the most effective thing we could have done, or are we simply content to know we’ve done something?

In the hope of being able to answer some of these questions, or at least guide the process of asking them, Quaker Peace & Social Witness has put together a series of guides to taking effective action on issues Friends care about. They are informed by the knowledge and stories of Friends’ witness across Britain.

Eight guides are currently available for meetings and individuals to use, with more guides covering issues such as working with your meeting and attending demonstrations on the horizon. The Toolkit for Action guides currently cover areas overleaf.

Planning effective action for change

The guide explores how we can move from the prompting to act, to an effective plan for creating change. It outlines steps and questions to help you and your group consider how you might explore your concern, develop a project or campaign, sustain energy, and reflect as the project develops. It also shares learning and experience from Quakers involved in campaigns on fossil fuel divestment and the Living Wage.

Organising actions

Here we highlight key steps to consider when organising actions. It also explores how we can increase the impact of our actions by working collaboratively, being creative, and sharing our stories.

Reaching the media

Once you’ve planned a campaign, project or action, you’ll probably want to publicise it to gather support, raise awareness of the issue and to reach – or build pressure on – any decision-makers you’ve identified. This guide sets out how to reach the media through writing a press release, sending letters, or giving a radio or TV interview. It also outlines some general tips for getting your stories covered, and shares learning and experience from Quaker Equality Week.

Using social media

Social media are used widely in work for social change to share and exchange news, ideas, opinions, and information, and to mobilise action. This guide outlines how social media can be used to build, and increase the impact of, projects and campaigns for change. It focuses on Twitter and Facebook as the two most popular social media platforms for campaigning, providing a practical introduction to both, as well as tips for using them effectively.

Engaging elected representatives

A mini-series of four shorter guides offering practical information on how individuals and meetings can most effectively engage with elected representatives and political institutions. They cover topics such as contacting your MP, holding hustings during an election or referendum, and getting to grips with the main political institutions in Britain and the EU.

Where can I find the Toolkit for Action?
Visit www.quaker.org.uk/toolkit-for-action to access the resources online. Alternatively, contact Maya Williams on 020 7663 1056 or mayaw@quaker.org.uk if you would like paper copies.

 

 

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