While there has been a marked long-term decline in political party membership, voting levels and public trust in politicians in general 1, recent years have also seen the largest public demonstrations in British history over issues ranging from trade justice and war to rural poverty and farming. These mass demonstrations are just the most visible indicator of the many hundreds of thousands of people across the country demanding a voice in how the world around them is run. On a daily basis all around the UK people are: fighting road building projects or school closures; setting up community gardens or housing co-ops; resisting foreign military intervention or corporate destruction of the environment.
While we are constantly inspired by the passionate people around us we feel that such active participation is limited by the following factors:
For individuals: balancing social change work (which is usually voluntary) with other (paid) work and family commitments; a lack of financial security in terms of affordable housing and provision for old age; a lack of training provision; a feeling of isolation and/or burn-out due to lack of support structures and networks.
For organisations: lack of experience of funding, management, technical and legal issues; ill-defined decision making processes which result in 'invisible hierarchies' and/or inter-personal conflict; lack of visioning spaces outside of daily experience.
For social movements: the lack of a sense of continuity and progress; and a space for strategic discussion and forward planning.
The Kindling Trust will create an exciting and challenging environment, where activists from a range of backgrounds exchange experiences and cross-pollinate ideas. A space for strategic vision and inspiration.
Examples of delivery include:
- Establish a Centre for Social Change – providing networking opportunities, capacity building and support for people working towards social change.
- A programme of residential courses and events will be delivered, bringing people together to share information, to learn and develop strategies for ecological and social change.
- Promoting alternatives to violence as a way of addressing global conflict. Through awareness raising, and training space for groups/campaigners such as those promoting non-violent civilian intervention in areas of conflict, and those promoting civilian resistance to war and militarisation.
- Support campaigners from the Global South through fund raising events and networking opportunities for visiting human rights defenders.
- An influential profile will be established, by working with activists and projects to build upon and strengthen a unified voice for progressive movements. Identifying areas of common agreement for strategic alliance, while challenging each other with our differences.
- Provide opportunities for people from a wide range of backgrounds to volunteer in a supportive environment. This would be a two way process, enabling people to develop skills and to share their knowledge and experience with others.
- 1. The Funding of Political Parties, Chaired by Sir Hayden Philips, (2007)