Community Organisers – another step forwards

We’re in the Development Phase for this programme so things are moving fast (I keep saying), though of course not fast enough for all the enquirers. But log your interest at or comment on this blog and you’ll be ‘in the loop’.

After a 24-hour session at the weekend with Stephen & Julia from Re:generate, the training aspect is beginning to shape up:

Foundations of Organising – a 5-month learning programme kicking off with a 3-day residential, followed by a parallel process of guided actions in local communities punctuated by live online sessions where COs will come together with the facilitators to reflect on how it’s going and share what they’ve learned from it. The climax of Foundations will be an Action Camp bringing together all the senior organisers with their mid-level crew from very different places around the country.

Go Deeper – as senior COs complete the camp they will make some choices about how to take it further. There are lots of opportunities and it will depend what’s going on in their community and what has caught their interest in the Foundation time. Some will work with Re:generate, perhaps sponsored by local authorities; some will approach Citizens UK for some pure Alinsky organising; some will want to pick the brains of the Locality membership on community assets and enterprise. And, by then, we know there will be other options.

Action Years – the end of the Bursary Year will be a big challenge and, of course, we need to be ready for it from the start. Sustaining the work of community organising was always going to be the biggest challenge. I’m rather taken with the cheesy “if anyone can Locality can” – our members, and many other groups who we hope will join us in the years ahead, are focused on making the community sector more enterprising and resilient. If the organising has been valuable then they will strive to subsidise its future. So the Action Years are the two or more years after the bursary when organisers get to really prove themselves…

I gave another presentation yesterday to the London Civic Forum. It’s here.

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9 Responses to Community Organisers – another step forwards

  1. Joe Micheli says:

    Hi Jess. It sounds like you are very busy with the programme. We have been fortunate in Barnsley to be working with Marshall Ganz on our ‘People In Control’ campaign applying ‘community organising’ and in particular the use of public narrative. I have to say my colleagues in the campaign leadership team are truly inspiring and the energy created whn we get together is infectious. We hope to be rolling out the approach to organising across our neighbourhoods in the near future and look forward to working with Locality on this in due course. My best Joe Micheli

    • jesssteele says:

      Hi Joe. Thanks for sending info, here and via Neil Berry. I’ve been reading about the Barnsley MBC/NHS approach to community organising with great interest. It sounds great.

      I wonder what you think of our approach that organisers should not bring any messages or seek any specific outcome? Your work is clearly very open to a wide range of solutions from local people but it does ask them to focus on taking responsibility for their own health and Long Term Conditions, in other words it specifies what the organising will be about. The public narrative approach is also interesting. From the perspective of the Community Organisers programme this will be something that organisers and their communities come to at a later stage in their work, after the listening.

      We’re in the development phase of the programme at the moment. Part of that is working on the right platform for a Knowledge Hub, a kind of wiki so that we can all upload stuff about organising work that we’re involved in or know about. I hope you’ll share your project paper there as soon as we can get it ready?

      Best wishes, Jess Steele, Director of Innovation for Locality and CO Programme Manager

      • Joe Micheli says:

        Hi Jess

        Is there a way of checking if our expression of interest to become a host for organisers has actually ‘registered’ with you. A colleague from Cabinet Office, Paul Schofield was actually discussing Organisers with us recently re our LIS pilot in Thurnscoe and he mentioned that Barnsley did not seem to be on the list that had registered. I completed it back in March, when we spoke? Regarding your earlier query about loading our paper up on your wiki, no problem, please feel free and I hope its all going well
        My best

      • jesssteele says:

        Dear Joe
        No-one from Cabinet Office would know whether or not you had registered because they don’t have access to the list.
        The original registration with just name and address was in order for us to get an idea of levels of interest. There is now a proper application process.
        See for all the details.

        Best wishes

  2. Joe Micheli says:

    Jim Diers from Seattle – an inspiring individual and asset based community development approach to organising and social action. Check him out on the net – oh and ask Jim about releasing the chicken in the Mayor’s Office. It subsequently got him the job his Neighbourhoods Director!

    • jesssteele says:

      Jim Diers is a member of the Expert Reference Group for the Community Organisers programme (set up by Office for Civil Society).
      He wasn’t able to join us for the first meeting on 7th March but I’ve been reading ‘Neighbor Power’ and am looking forward to meeting him at future meetings. I’ll ask about the chicken…!

  3. Alice Y. says:

    It’s good to find this blog Jess. Interesting programme. I am reading more about it.

  4. Hi Jess,
    Just making contact. I am the new Community Engagement Officer at the Kirgate ( one of the kicker starter organisations) and I will be working closely with the new CO’s when they are recruited.
    Re Joe Micheli’s reply re Jim Diers; I heard John McKnight speak about ABCD.. another inspiring and motivational individual.. really think its the way forward, and looking forward to the project getting off the ground here in Cockermouth.

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