Community organising means listening to what people in their area are concerned about and helping local people lead a campaign to change it. Rather than imposing from the top, we build people power all around us.
Bilal, one of Labour’s new community organisers, explains how effective it can be:
“We wanted to win cleaners at a living wage for cleaners at my university – and at first we weren’t quite sure how to get results. But then teams of us put on breakfast meetings at 5:15am just before cleaners started their shifts and we sat down to talk. Eventually, we were opening up together, sharing our hopes for the future – and building trust. One cleaner told us for every winter for the past 10 years he’d worked at the university he’d switched off his heating because he couldn’t afford it.”
“After we built those relationships, we helped 50 cleaners to send a letter calling for a meeting to discuss a living wage and brought together 100 students, lecturers and cleaners to deliver the letter, with flowers, to the Vice Chancellor.”
“One cleaner, who had never spoken publicly before, shared his story of wanting to get an education but not being able to afford it. 2 days after we took our campaign to her, the Vice Chancellor announced an immediate increase for their lowest paid staff, meaning an extra £168,750 for 412 staff.”
These are the kinds of victories that we all can win – whether Labour party members or not – when we empower each other. What it also enables us to do is create a feeling of collective power – giving people a reason to vote or campaign come election time.
The Labour Party will head to places – from Glasgow to Hastings – reaching out to people, whether in Mosques or at local football teams. By having thousands of conversations, we will help people to find the issues that matter and turn big local problems into community-led, unifying local campaigns. In some Labour Parties across the country, our members are already hard at work.