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The Chicken Run



Sometimes social justice requires going the extra mile…like dressing up as a chicken and running 18km in the hot sun to your nearest Nando’s. Wales Citizens leaders did just that, with some more than palatable results.

Join us for this episode of Citizens UK’s new podcast series, which tells the extraordinary story of young people tackling exclusion and winning big institutional change in their home city. Hear from Ali Abdi, Community Organiser, and Alaa Khundakji and Elbasheer Idris, Cymru Wales Citizens leaders, on how they persuaded executives to create the first ever Halal Nando’s restaurant in Cardiff. 

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Show notes and further reading

  • NGO - Non-Governmental Organisation
  • Halal meat - Halal is Arabic for permissible. Halal food is that which adheres to Islamic law, as defined in the Koran.
  • Butetown and Grangetown - part of Cardiff, traditional areas that were at the heart of Cardiff's industry and role as a Port.
  • The Bay / Cardiff Bay - an area in the South of Cardiff
  • Nantgarw - an area approximately 10 miles North of Cardiff. The final destination for the Chicken Run and previously, the closest Halal Nando's to Cardiff City Centre.
  • Stop and Search - the power Police officials have to search you or your vehicle if they have 'reasonable grounds'. This episode discusses how Stop and Searches disproportionately target Black, brown and other racialised people including Muslims, and can leave many people feeling excluded, violated, or unsafe.

You can find a full reading list on Community Organising here.

Challenge, Choice, Change

Challenge, Choice, Change was a concept first used by Community Organising veteran, Marshall Ganz. You can read more about the use of this framework here.

In The Chicken Run, Community Organiser Ali Abdi explains that there were many challenges impacting young people across Cardiff. During listening, young people from areas like Butetown and Grangetown shared that they felt particularly unwelcome and excluded from the Bay area, a wealthy, touristy area. They also noted that in the city of Cardiff there were 3 Nando's restaurants, but that all 3 were shutting their doors to Muslims by not providing Halal meat. This meant that in the city Muslims and non-Muslims could not eat together at Nando's. On top of experiencing inequality across employment and learning opportunities, and through being disproportionately targeted by Stop and Searches, young Somalian Muslims felt this sense of exclusion in particular.

They had two choices - to continue in the same way and do nothing about it. Or to Organise and take action. There was a real 'appetite' to try and get a seat at the table with Nando's execs and tackle not just the issue of Nando's, but also broader issues of isolation and inequality.

The change was literal! After donning chicken outfits and running through the city centre, meeting with Execs and discussing the issue, young leaders won over the people in charge. The first Halal Nando's was introduced in Cardiff, and Muslims and non-Muslims can finally eat together.

The 5 Steps to Social Change

The 5 Steps are a framework commonly used in Community Organising and across Citizens UK. Following these steps can help civil society leaders make change on the issues that matter to them. The best way to start Organising and practising these steps is by joining Citizens UK as a member. You can also join one our many leadership training programs - from free, online webinars, to immersive three and six day accredited Community Leadership courses.

This episode: The Chicken Run

Community Organiser Ali Abdi and the young leaders started to Organise by building a network by talking to other young people in the community. They set a date and booked a room at the Millenium Centre in the Bay. 20 or 30 young people were in the room for the Listening campaign. The consensus was that they wanted to eat in the Bay; to feel welcome in the Bay. For the space to feel like their own. Many if not all of them said that this was the first time they had ever been in the Wales Millenium Centre - a stone throw away from their community. They could see wealthy people, tourists, Bay locals eating out and enjoying their weekend. But they couldn't see others who looked like them.

So, they hatched a plan to get a Halal Nandos introduced in Cardiff. They did a power analysis to work out who had the authority to make the decisions and implement the change needed. And then they took action - The Chicken Run! Young people started at the Pavilion in the Bay, making placards ready to march all the way to Nantgarw, approximately 18 kilometres North of Cardiff. Four were dressed as chickens and decided to draw straws to determine who would take what method of transport. One person had to run, another to cycle, and another to take public transport. They wanted to prove to Nando's how long it takes a young Muslim person to get to a Nando's where they can eat. The whole of inner-city Cardiff came to support the march - they were 200+ strong! Bash got the short straw and led the four-hour run! There were many onlookers and tourists.

The action led them to winning a seat at the table with Nando's Execs where they were able to negotiate. Nando's sent a team to Cardiff, where they met in the City United Reform Church during Ramadan. They'd had a few pre-meetings to plan exactly how they needed the negotiations to go. They strategically chose to meet in a Church to tie into the wider Citizens Cymru Wales Chapter and prove to Nando's there was broad-based power behind the campaign. It was Ramadan, so most of the people in the room were fasting. But someone made Welsh cakes to offer to the Execs. The Execs came armed with a presentation that could have been called 101 reasons why we can't have a Halal Nando's in Cardiff, but after young people shared their rounds of why they love Cardiff and why they love Nando's, the Execs were too embarrassed to show their presentation. They left the room having agreed to provide a Halal provision, and by the second Eid (Eid al-Adha), this team of leaders were the first people to sit down and eat Halal Nando's in the City Centre.

Read more on the 5 steps:


How to Build a New Citizens Alliance

How to collect annual membership dues: a guide for leaders and organisers

Mike Gecan on one to one meetings

Power and one to ones

Recruiting members through one to ones

Why we never go where we're not invited


Twelve steps to plan an effective listening campaign

Developing people through listening

How to do listening through House Meetings

How to do listening through Neighbourhood Walks

Template flyer based on a Listening Campaign

Template plans for Listening Campaign


Developing an effective strategy to achieve change

Leadership Development Table - Tracking your development and that of others

Qualities and Habits of leaders who organise effectively

Strategising for Impact


A story of action: Tesco and the Living Wage

Guide to turnout by Nottingham Citizens

Maxims of an effective action


Tips for negotiating effectively with decision makers

In this episode Dilraj chats to Hannah Gretton, a Senior Organiser in South-East London, and Stefan Baskerville, a Lead Organiser for Citizens UK. They discuss the well-known Organising maxim 'The action is in the reaction', taken from Saul Alinksy's Rules for Radicals. Join them as they unpack both the art and science of Organising actions which capture the attention of decision-makers and secure community leaders a seat around the table.

If you're angry about an issue discover some of our national campaigns and how to get involved here. To make change in your neighbourhood, participate in your local Citizens Chapter here if your institution (like a school, faith group, business) is already a member. If they aren't, persuade them to consider joining by checking out our membership pages!

'Moving beyond traditional forms of protest'

In this episode, Jason talks about his journey into activism starting as a young teenager, marching with thousands of others against police racism, followed by, years later, the protest against the invasion of Iraq. But he reflects on the fact that mass or traditional forms of protest no longer seem to garner any real change. Alas, the war in Iraq went ahead. Moreover, Jason notes that it was the tireless campaigning of Steven Lawrence's family, rather than mass protests, which made the biggest tangible change to the criminal justice landscape in recent history, in the fight to end racism.

Jason goes on to unpack what it is about Community Organising methods of action, local or national, that make them so effective. Even though they may be smaller in scale than traditional forms of protest, their outcomes have proven to be much more impactful.