Building HOPE Organising HOPE not hate in the community: The plan for 2018 HOPE not hate has organised for over a decade in areas targeted by far right politicians. By putting leaflets through doors and getting people out to vote, we have played a part in stopping the BNP, and more recently UKIP, from winning power. How did we do it? We engaged in communities. We worked hard to put out a steady stream of leaflets and newsletters exposing the lies of far-right candidates, and we celebrated the local stories and people who inspire HOPE. Our campaigns were also targeted. Our data – often more accurate than our opponents – made sure we were knocking on the right doors and using our time in the best way possible. Most importantly, we were in the right communities, and we made ourselves known. Today we find ourselves in a strange position. Electorally, the far-right are disorganised, with activism increasingly taking place online. At the same time, the far-right remain active in many communities, and as Brexit begins to bite – with the North East and West Midlands set to be hit particularly hard - the possibility of a new electoral threat emerging is real. We have identified forty communities where we think our work is most important. Some of these are areas the far-right have targeted in the past, others are areas they are likely to target in the future. It is easy to dismiss a group who descend on an area for an election, only to leave straight after. The Nuttals and Farages of this world will travel the length and breadth of the country to find a community they can exploit. But progressive groups and political parties can be guilty of the same. By strengthening our network and engaging in communities now, we have a greater chance of being listened to in the future. It is always easier to mobilise people at a time of crisis. In the weeks following the Brexit vote, I had the opportunity to travel across the country, hosting packed out meetings to discuss what we could practically do, following the re-emergence of an overt racism during a toxic and hostile referendum campaign. One outcome was the development of our difficult conversations training. Again and again people told us they wanted to meet and make connections with people across divides, but they didn’t know how. We have trained thousands since then. By taking the time to listen and acknowledge people’s concerns we have an opportunity to genuinely address prejudices, identify common values and experiences, and build trust in communities at the same time. Our own research and listening projects into public opinion will inform the conversations we have, as well as the leaflets we put through doors. Here’s where you come in... Our next weekend of action will be a leafleting blitz on 24/25 March. Everyone's welcome - even if you've never done something like this before or if you only have a bit of time to spare. Sign up to join in or have a chat with a staff member to find out more here. For those who stay with us, you will get plugged into a national network, receive ongoing tutorship from experienced HOPE not hate community organisers, and learn how to make full use of our online and offline resources. For groups that put out three of more of our leaflets in their area, we will offer the option of creating and printing a local community newsletter tailored to their area. We already have groups across England and Wales organising themselves as part of this work, and we will be bringing together our committed volunteers to our first national meeting of the year in June. This is a FREE weekend training course, with accomodation and food provided. You can apply to our free HOPE Academy here. Most importantly you will have the opportunity to become part of a network on the front line, and make a real difference at a critical point in our country’s history. I really hope you can join us. Tom.