HOPE not hate’s Together initiative, launched in August 2014, prioritises proactive community organising aimed at building community networks before any crisis develops.
HOPE not hate’s HOPE Camps are the next step in enabling communities to organise to defeat the extremist politics of hatred and division. As we cannot put a paid organiser into every community in the country, training supporters to organise in their own communities is a priority.
HOPE camp aims to build an improved model of community organising that is not just community based but is also led by activists from within communities themselves.
HOPE camp is HOPE not hate’s largest annual training event. In September 2016, over 90 people attended, exploring the state of hate and providing training in organising techniques.
The training is always very interactive, and this year included sessions on power mapping, strategic choices, coalition building and campaign planning. Also covered were sessions on engaging with faith communities and planning activities around future HOPE not hate campaigns. The group attending was very diverse, ranging from students to pensioners, and included refugees whose insights enriched the learning of the whole group.
A focus in 2016 was on learning to conduct difficult conversations, and engaging with people who express racist views. We looked at the way we can use conversations to allow people to articulate their underlying concerns, and explore different views on the causes of those concerns.
Multiple HOPE not hate groups are now run by HOPE campers. Almost half the members of our London steering group have previously attended a HOPE Camp. Increasingly HOPE campers have been co-facilitating training sessions for us. HOPE camp has helped to transform our activists’ profile from an ageing, trade union based cohort, to one that is younger and more diverse.
In February 2017 we ran a 2 day HOPE camp in Scotland, in response to increased need for HOPE not hate activity. This has resulted in a number of events run by new groups in Scotland including action weekends and a ‘one-day without us’ event.
HOPE camp 2015
Our last national HOPE camp in September 2015 was four days of intensive residential training. The 50 lay activists we brought together came from a range of communities. Some were professionals in the field of race equality, others were from the LGBT+ communities and some were students. The mix had a majority of women and a majority of participants were under the age of 35 (a quarter were under 25) and over a third were from ethnic minority communities.
Coming from Scotland and Wales and from every corner of England, those taking part were a genuinely diverse group, all with a clear commitment to the values of HOPE not hate.
The four-day training course allowed us to pool our collective knowledge and learn new techniques and practices. Almost half of those delivering the training were volunteer activists and the learning involved a combination of techniques: presentations, role-plays, games, films and small group discussions.
One outcome of the camp is that a group of participants has already begun discussing establishing an LGBT+ network, an area where our proactive work has previously been limited, for HOPE not hate.
The event was a great success and as we face new challenges, we look forward to developing a bigger and better HOPE camp 2016.