Whilst Policy and Campaigns Consultant at Independent Age
Generally are organisations getting better at campaigning since you began your career? If so, what’s changed?
Yes they are. People understand that campaigning is good for organisational growth; supporters can engage in more activities more easily than they ever could in the past. Both have their downsides too. I think charities need remind themselves that campaigns are an expression of their purpose to change the world and by campaigning you remind yourself of why you exist, both corporately and individually.
Which campaigner inspires you most?
Bob Holman, founder of the Easterhouse Project in Glasgow. I’ve also got a lot of time for my old colleague at The Children’s Society, Jim Davis who whenever he spoke made me wonder why I wasn’t doing more to change the things he faced on a daily basis.
Apart from your current organisation which other organisations that campaign do you admire and why?
Save the Children for the scale of their ambition and their understanding of how to mobilise their supporters. Greenpeace for their persistent activism and keeping alive the spirit of radical intervention; Glasgow University – not really a campaigning organisation, but they produced probably the most uplifting video I’ve ever seen about why change is important.
What three attributes make a good campaigner?
Idealism, scepticism and stubbornness. Good analysis helps, so does thinking differently.
What’s the most rewarding or exciting campaign you’ve worked on and why?
Safe and Sound, with The Children’s Society. I remember when we achieved one of our goals The Guardian wrote a leader about the campaign praising us for our persistence and consistency over time. They said we were ‘a stuck record’. I liked that. I think all campaigners should aim to be a stuck record, going on and on until we get what we want.
How do you feel campaigns will change over the next five years?
On the one hand I think there’s a risk that they might simply become marketing tools, yet on the other hand I think there’s a real opportunity to share the reality of the lives and conditions that charities are trying to change by bringing in the voices from the fringes of society into the corridors of power.
What advice would you give someone starting their career in campaigning today?
Be an optimist of the heart and a pessimist of the mind. I think Gramsci said something to that effect.
If you weren’t a campaigner, what would you be?
An internationally acclaimed accordion star.