Friends of the Earth have created a course and award to give people the skills and know-how to become grassroots campaigners.

For more than 40 years Friends of the Earth has been an environmental campaigning organisation which encourages people to take better care of the planet. Issues at the forefront of their work include climate change, the protection of bees, anti-fracking and environmental justice, just to name a few.

An important aspect of the charity’s work is training local organisers in campaigning. Previously Friends of the Earth offered only ad-hoc training, but realised there was a need for something more structured and affordable. “A number of providers offer this kind of training for professional campaigners, often for a fee,” says Tim Gee who runs the campaign organisers’ programme.“But to our knowledge we are the only provider of free accredited training for grassroots environmental organisers.”

Tim approached OCN London to formalise the training it offers local organisers. He explains why.

“We are passionate about what we do and we get the same impression from OCN London, whichis why this is such a good partnership. We chose them from a variety of awarding organisations because they responded very quickly and enthusiastically,” says Tim. “We think that learning should be recognised, which is why we wanted them to accredit our campaign organiser’s course. We created the course together and it blossomed into a fruitful partnership.”

Friends of the Earth has been running OCN London accredited courses since 2013. They recently launched a new course – the Level 3 Award in Community Campaigning (accredited by OCN London) - which they have developed in partnership with Citizens UK and OCN London. Eight schools and colleges in London, Cardiff and Nottinghamshire have been selected to be the first to run the course and offer the Award. .

“Staff at OCN London have been very flexible in helping us find a structure that works for both the participants and the charity which is sufficiently rigorous. They helped us make the transition from a model exclusively based on ad-hoc training, where it is difficult to monitor learning outcomes, to a model where we support them over time towards an agreed level,” says Tim.

The Award in Community Campaigning is generic, rather than focused on specific issues, so is adaptable for a wide range of campaigns. It consists of four mandatory units. They are: Understanding Community Campaigning; Mapping Power for a Community Campaign; Organising Community Campaigns; and      Effective Negotiation in a Campaigning Context. The structure of the Award enables people to build up credits.

OCN London’s CEO Jacquie Mutter says: “We know that learning happens by doing. We also know that giving people the opportunity to gain a qualification  is extremely empowering as it gives them recognition of their achievements . As an awarding organisation with a strong commitment to social justice and community cohesion, we have a  long track record  helping charities to create training programmes and qualifications that make a difference, both to individuals and communities. We are proud to be partnering with Friends of the Earth on this ground-breaking initiative that we hope will inspire young people and adults to become community campaigners.”

More information about the OCNLR Level 3 Award in Community Campaigning here.