The modern world is awash with complex social and environmental challenges: growing wealth inequalities, ongoing environmental destruction and social fragmentation.
At one level these arise out of our political and economic systems. At another level, they are a product of how we are as people, how we relate to each other and to the world around us.
And at the same time new models of organising are also emerging. The new story is being born as the old one dies: new forms of communities coming together, new economies, new ways to care for others and for nature.
At Oasis we support social and community change through three streams of activity:
- developing the activists of tomorrow – conscious and reflective individuals who are driven by values, are actively involved in change and who recognise the importance of their own personal development
- capacity building in change organisations – supporting social change organisations to work more effectively and in tune with their own values
- building collaborative movements – working across and between organisations to support the movement of movements.
Whole Person Activism
Our approach, Whole Person Learning, seeks to engage and develop our full potential – head, heart, body and soul. Our experience shows that the more of our whole self we bring to an activity the more powerful we are. This applies to social activism too. As activists we need to know ourselves well enough to know when we are acting from an authentic and grounded place.
We have a range of programmes to support activists – often with others in their network or organisation. This includes a one-day primer, a three-day intensive focused on bringing greater social and environmental impact to groups and organisations and a longer-term programme for Community Activists.
We focus less on the technical skills of activism, which we find are adequately catered for elsewhere. What we aim to add is a focus on the self as an instrument of social change – how do I bring my true potential to the realm of social change?
Oasis has over two decades’ experience of supporting social and community organisations. Our approach is based on an understanding of the strengths that can be released in organisations and some of the blocks and barriers that can exist.
Over recent years we have honed our interest to focus on three main areas:
- supporting the development of peer-based ways of working – models that go beyond traditional forms of hierarchy and leadership and instead are based on harnessing the power of authentic individuals working together collaboratively
- moving beyond the Pioneer – how do organisations make the critical transition from a founder, or a strong single leader, to a situation where influence and momentum rest in more places throughout the organisation?
- aligning organisation culture with core values – so that the principles and values we apply in our work in the field also apply to how we treat each other as colleagues and how we organise in the office.
We have worked with a wide range of organisations including:
Charity that supports teenagers in the north-west who have leadership potential but face barriers to success.
Student movement that campaigns on issues of global poverty, environment and human rights.
Network of young activists from around the world, now living in the UK, using he creative arts and participatory action research to build an inclusive community.
York Unifying and Multicultural Initiative provides a voluntary support network for people from different cultures through projects and activities in York.
Not-for-profit social enterprise which aims to make music more accessible to people who don’t feel they belong in other areas of music.
A safe, friendly, confidential centre offering health-related services, education and support for young people in Edinburgh.
Charity that offers purposeful work and training to people with learning disabilities in York.
Social business managing commercial property that supports the work charities and not-for-profit organisations, with 24 owned and managed centres across England, Scotland and Wales.
Triodos is a global pioneer of sustainable banking, making money work for positive social, environmental and cultural change.
Charity working to transform the lives of vulnerable children and young people.
Learning network exploring what it means to be part of a peer organisation.
Root & Branch Programme
Working in partnership with Barnardo’s in North-East England we have developed a detailed programme for people wanting to make a change in their local community.
How can we help to re-vitalise disadvantaged communities? In the face of austerity how can communities make the most of their own resources? And what is the role of individuals in bringing about social change?
To answer these questions Oasis has partnered with Barnardo’s to run a pioneering programme for community activists in the North East of England. Based in former coal-mining communities, the Root & Branch programme is working with seven young mothers to develop community initiatives and to build the personal confidence and resilience to bring these initiatives to life.
The programme will be evaluated by Sunderland University using an innovative “audio-diary” approach and there is already interest in replicating it in other parts of the North-East. Co-facilitator Chris Taylor said: “What’s exciting about this is that we’re using Whole Person Learning approaches to support personal development and combining this with strengths-based approaches to community development. When the power of individuals meets the power of communities who knows what can happen!”
Zero Carbon Yorkshire
In partnership with our friends at Schumacher North, Oasis is developing an ambitious social change initiative based on developing a zero-carbon economy in Yorkshire.
Zero Carbon Yorkshire has three components:
- Promoting Active Communities through Collaborative Conversations – a range of conferences and gatherings across Yorkshire in 2015/2016. These events encourage collaborative working within geographical areas such as Hull, Leeds, Bradford and York. The events enjoy and benefit from multi-sector engagement, from grassroots to local government, from business to third sector.
- Developing Community Activists – the rule of thumb in reaching a tipping point for change is harnessing the active engagement of 3.5% of a population. Within Yorkshire and its 5 million people, we are seeking to engage 175,000 people in active citizenship. To promote and release this energy we are looking to develop and support a significant number of community catalysts over the next 20 years. Our approach is to seek support for the development of 60 zero catalysts each year over the next five years, leading to a scaling up over the following 15 years. This approach builds on the emergent practices for developing social activists combining human engagement, multi issue perspectives, participation approaches and planetary citizenship.
- Fellowship-based Collaboratory for Organisational Influencers – this Oasis-inspired global methodology provides participants with an opportunity to step back from the daily rhythms, to disrupt conventional patterns of thinking and making sense, shape meaningful actions, and to reflect on how decision makers and organisational influencers can contribute and impact systemic transformation to encourage social and planetary justice, particularly contributing to the Vision 2050 – Zero Carbon Yorkshire.
Our social impact team
Chris Taylor is an Oasis associate, facilitator and one-to-one developer. Experienced consultant on social and environmental responsibility and planetary impact, working on community engagement with disadvantaged or marginalised groups, leads on Globally Responsible Practice.
Ruth Ibegbuna is the Founder and CEO of youth leadership charity RECLAIM. Ruth is passionate about working with young people to help end leadership inequality.
Irwin Williams has a background in social care, managing training and development and decision making in public purpose organisations. Experienced facilitator of values-based programmes.
Find out more
What are your reflections on the Oasis Activists Programme? For me: personal development, growth and self-worth.Dan, Youth Activist, Manchester
We must be the change we wish to see in the world.Gandhi
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world: indeed it’s the only thing that ever has.Margaret Mead