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What is community organising?

Community organising is about bringing people together to win change. This means building community-led solutions to big and small problems, that work for everyone.

Through community organising, we work together to make change on the issues that matter, from campaigning for zebra crossings on dangerous roads, to reforming the immigration system, to the Living Wage campaign.

We know everyday people have the ability to shape the world around them and together, we put the power back into people’s hands to hold those responsible to account.

By building positive working relationships between communities, elected power-holders and businesses, we make sure everyone is heard and no one is left out. This is how we shift the balance of power, helping people come together across their differences, find common ground and win change.

Together, we have a proven track record of winning change on the things that you and your community care about most.

So, how do we do this? We follow the 5 steps to Social Change.

5 Steps to Social Change

1. Organise

Start by building a team!

This involves bringing together everyday people from local organisations such as schools, faith groups, universities, charities, unions and others. It’s not about leaving our differences at the door – we value contrasting perspectives and bring each person into the solution for change by finding common ground.

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Reclaim the Metro!

A powerful example of how leaders organised to build a team and take action on Islamophobia and misogyny on public transport

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Winning Free School Meals

Students, Parents, Teachers and organisations within the community organised to campaign for Free School Meals for students with parents who have NRPF statuts.


2. Listen

Communities we work with are too often shut out from decisions that affect their lives, and not involved in finding the best solution to local issues. ​So, we listen to each other and our communities to find out what is putting pressure on everyday people and families. We spot issues of social injustice that make people’s lives difficult but which they feel powerless to do anything about. Listening not only helps you grow your team but unites people around the issues that matter, making your campaigns more robust.

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Launching New Campaigns

Peterborough Citizens listens to over 10,500 local voices about the issues they cared about the most and identify three key campaigns.

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South London Listens

How a mental health campaign and community partnership was launched after listening to over 5,700 people


3. Plan

We want you to write the script for your community’s future – where things change for the better. This includes planning for how your team will tackle the root cause of injustice, by identifying solutions and deciding which actions to take. This might look like researching more about the problem and understanding which power-holders to build relationships with.

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"Citizens is the most important title"

West London Citizens leaders discuss pre-election campaigns, sharing testimonies and action plans

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Winning £19 million in wages for care staff

Leaders from Greater Manchester Citizens planned and identified key decision makers to win living wages for care staff.


4. Act

We take action through fun, imaginative and legal public demonstrations to hold those responsible to account. We do this to prompt a reaction, such as receiving an invitation to a meeting or a commitment to work together. We’ll support you through the steps to identify your team, equip your organisation with training, and connect you to the power holders who can implement change. The hard work will be yours, but we’re here to support you and take action. ​

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What is an Accountability Assembly?

An accountability assembly is a celebration of the power that civil society can build. It is this platform that enabled low-waged cleaners to make a real Living Wage a mainstream idea.

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Carers not Jugglers!

Citizens UK leaders from across London, Somerset and Coventry gathered outside Barchester Care and Bupa UK HQ to call on them to pay staff a real living wage


5. Negotiate

Finally, we negotiate with decision makers in government, businesses, or whoever holds power to find a solution together. Citizens UK provides communities and power holders support to help change the debate and find a constructive way forward, making sure change is effective and sustainable. Communities participating in decision-making contributes to the common good and helps us all build a better, fairer society.

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Affordable Housing

After ten years of campaigning by local people through Lewisham Citizens, 11 genuinely and permanently affordable homes are now complete at Citizens House.

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The Chicken Run!

Leaders got a seat at the table to negotiate with Nandos HQ executives. Sharing their testimonies, executives 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.


90% of our community leaders in new Citizens alliances feel that they are better equipped to build stronger relationships in their own organisation and 82% report that community organising enables them to better connect with people of different backgrounds in their area.

It is the development of local leadership that makes the change possible. When we see school students in Newham persuading London City Airport to pay the real Living Wage or see grassroots charities like One Roof Leicester and the Somali parents association SOCOPA transform the way they deliver services and engage with volunteers and “service users” alike, it is because of “ordinary” people stepping up.

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Community organising training

Since we started delivering our national training in 1989, we have developed over 4,000 everyday people to become changemakers in their community. Several thousand more have become community leaders through shorter, local training days.

Through community organising, our members have been able to build stronger relationships across the community and within their own organisations. Whether it’s the local church that has seen its congregation grow, or a school that has gone from “failing” to “outstanding” by re-thinking how it engages pupils and parents, our member institutions join Citizens UK because it contributes to the common good and benefits them directly.

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A rich history of community organising

Find out more about the history of broad-based community organising and take a look at our achievements since Citizens UK was founded over 30 years ago.