On a cold September evening one Wednesday I listened to a group of teenage girls who expressed their concerns about the levels of anti-social behaviour and crime on their estate. The girls were confident that some more activities on their estate would be a good way to deter youngsters from causing problems. We continued meet every Wednesday and I encouraged them to start listening to other people on their estate to find out their views. From the listening and the meetings, a project idea was born: holding an activities night… Quite soon we came across a charity who were offering small grants… their application was successful and all the hard work had paid off! They set up a regular Wednesday night activity club…..On the back of this project, two of the girls were awarded Citizen of the Year award. This group of girls are a true testament to young people…. young people do care and that they do want to make a difference to where they live!
Story by Maaike Veenkamp, Senior Organiser
Community Organisers programme is a national training programme in community organising and a grass-roots movement for social action run by Locality. Organising is the work of building relationships in communities to activate people and create social and political change through collective action.
Maaike’s story is just one of our stories showing how the community organising movement is inspiring community action at a neighbourhood level. The principle behind the approach is simple: together with partners, we train Community Organisers to listen to concerns of people in their area, build relationships and networks and help people take community action on the local issues that matter to them.
We work with a range of training partners to deliver our comprehensive training course in community organising. Organisers work in their communities whilst they train, continuously improving on their community organising skills. At the end of 12 month they will have earned a Certificate in the Foundation of Community Organising. After their initial year of training over half of our Organisers progress into a second year as Senior Organisers.
The Programme is funded by the Office for Civil Society and teams of Organisers are hosted by local organisations, many of them Locality members, in neighbourhoods throughout England.
A vital part of the CO movement are our dedicated Volunteers. These are community members who, like the girls from our story, have come forward as leaders and, supported by Organisers, are the catalyst for positive changes in their neighbourhoods.
You can also be a part of our movement. If you are a resident looking to get community organising in your area drop us an email on For organisations we offer a chance to Employ an Organiser. With the combination of experience, passion, skills and match funding our trained Organisers are perfect additions to any organisation. Your organisation can apply to host an Organiser in their second year of training and have access to a CO Progression Grant worth £15,000.
Over the four years of the Programme our mission is to train 500 Community Organisers, along with a further 4,500 volunteers. And we are on track to achieving this goal. So far we have recruited 541 Organisers, 154 Hosts and 3300 Volunteers. Our Organisers have listened to more than 150,000 residents and supported at least 1500 community projects. Our movement is growing by the day!
If you liked Maaike’s story and would like to hear more stories of community organising around England, please download our Stories booklet. To find out all about the Programme please visit our website and connect with us on Facebook and Twitter.
You can also read Locality’s Community Organisers bid here.