Scope for Change, our training programme for campaigners, is supporting a group of disabled people to launch their own campaigns. To help them on their way, we invited Kajal Odedra from Change.org and Lucy Ann Holmes from No More Page 3 to share their campaigning experiences and expertise.
“Campaigning is a marathon, not a sprint”
This was one of the key messages which emerged from a training session on Saturday 9 July when disabled campaigners involved with Scope for Change came back together for the first time since their residential training weekend in early April.
Since the training weekend, the campaigners have been developing their strategies, tactics, and creating change through their exciting campaigns.
The campaigners taking part in the programme come from all over the country and are aged between 18 and 25 with a wide range of impairments.
Coming from a variety of background with varying degrees of campaigning experience, the campaigners are focusing on very different issues and are using different methods to achieve their goals.
The training day was to give everyone the opportunity to meet up, compare their campaigns and share their experiences.
Diverse campaigns for a diverse community
There are nearly 12 million disabled people in the UK. The Scope for Change group reflects that diversity within the disabled community. Some of the group are focusing their campaigns on making train transport more accessible, while others want to raise awareness of hidden impairments.
A number of the campaigners are working together on a campaign to end domestic and sexual violence against disabled women. Other campaigners are focusing on making museums more accessible to people with autism, making wildlife reserves more accessible and improving access to gyms for disabled people.
Many of the campaigns have a very local focus, as the campaigners want to play role in improving their own communities.
A packed agenda
We had a full agenda with presentations from Kajal Odedra from Change.org who spoke about building your campaign support. Lucy Ann Holmes from No More Page 3 gave her own personal story of running a campaign and discussed the various challenges she faced.
Other workshops covered areas such as the importance of robust research to help your campaign succeed and advice on fundraising techniques, as well as advice on how to sell your campaign to the media.
Jack Welch, who’s running a campaign to make museums more accessible, told us how he was going to use some of the more practical advice:
“It was brilliant to have some of the most experienced and prolific figures in the campaigning circuit. What especially struck me was that the more authentic and connected you were to your cause, the greater chance it is to be successful. For me, I’ll personally have to take Lucy’s advice that doing too much in such a short space of time can quickly exhaust you – the impact will be much better if you spread your efforts over an extended time frame. ”
Sarah Troke had been following Lucy’s No More Page 3 campaign from the start, and thought it was really useful to hear about her positive and negative experiences first hand: “It was really inspirational to hear from someone who had succeeded on such a big campaign, but was also important to hear how she learnt to be realistic and how to deal with ‘campaign burnout'”.
A strong support network
It was great to catch up with everyone and see the progress they have made with their campaigns. It was wonderful to hear the campaigners talk about how being part of the Scope for Change programme has given them the confidence to speak publicly about their impairments for the first time, and explain the impact this had on their lives. Being able to share their experiences has strengthened their resolve to address the negative attitudes and discrimination that affect them and other disabled people.
The campaigners are working hard to improve the lives of other disabled people, including those who may not be able to campaign on their own behalf. Many of them have said that being part of the Scope for Change community has given them a sense of solidarity with other disabled people and boosted their confidence. No longer feeling like they are working alone, the campaigners are part of a group that is struggling for equality and for the same life opportunities that so many of their peers can take for granted.
This is the first time Scope has run this type of training programme. We will be working closely with the current group of campaigners to plan for the next stage for the programme in 2017. We want to improve upon what has been achieved this year so watch out for applications to open for the next Scope for Change.