Growing the movement in Scotland: a skill share event

At the end of October, the World Development Movement (an organisation focused on justice for the world's poor) organised a skill-share and networking event for campaigners in Scotland.  Oxfam and Amnesty were there, Friends of the Earth, Jubilee Scotland, Christian Aid and a host of other local groups.  At the end, we were asked if someone could write a short blog about the event from a personal standpoint.  Here is my contribution (originally posted on the World Development Movement blog).

I’ve taken part in and supported social justice and environmental campaigns intermittently since earliest university, and their issues have been the subject of many a blogpost.  That said, I don’t consider myself an experienced campaigner.

But I’d like to be, so the Make a Movement campaigning skill share seemed the best way to spend my Saturday.

A short panel of seasoned activists began the morning.  I squeaked in late so missed Orkhan Ali’s comments on campaigning for Oxfam in Azerbaijan, but Jess Wade from Amnesty International had me at “Amnesty letter writing evenings at the pub” (campaigning is social!); and Mike Schilling of WDM Glasgow and I share a passion for dressing up (going to put some serious thought into that!). 

Our brains now ready for action, we broke for delicious lunch and conversation, then launched into the workshops. The open space format which creates an agenda that best suits the interests of participants, worked a treat to get the most relevant small group discussions going. 

The public speaking/streetside campaigning group (my first session choice) included some great tips and reassurances about engaging the person on the street.  Tips I picked up include that visuals or games give you something to grab attention and talk about.  Also, there is no golden opening line so just take note of people’s body language and be yourself!

In the break, I had a chat with Jess over at the Amnesty stall and got some information about volunteering with my local group.  Session two saw me at the newly formed mainstream media group, a great mix of pro info from Oxfam Azerbaijan’s Orkhan Ali and Siobhan Reardon of Amnesty Scotland, together with genuinely insightful contributions from the semi-experienced and allegedly ignorant (you know more than you think you do!).

In sum, I think we may be onto something!