06 Sep 2022
To protect our basic needs and ensure everyone can afford to heat their home, we need to bring communities together and build a national movement that’s too powerful to ignore.
Communities across the UK are battling poor housing, structural racism, poverty, climate change, and more. These issues are systemic and interlinked, but so are the solutions.
By standing in solidarity with each other, we can overcome challenges together and achieve our common goals.
Building local solidarity
The cost-of-living crisis affects us all, but it impacts people differently depending on things like income, age and ability. For many people in our communities, the increase in energy prices creates an impossible choice between heating and eating. We need an urgent transformation of our failed energy system. But this won’t happen overnight, and it’s essential we act now to support those in the most difficulty.
To do this, we need to build partnerships and show solidarity with groups on the frontline of the cost-of-living crisis, like food banks and community centres.
How to show solidarity
There are lots of ways to show solidarity with local community groups. Before you plan what you can do, start by asking yourself these two key questions:
- What does your community need most? Whether you're already working in a coalition or starting to reach out to potential campaign partners, the most important thing to do first is ask what you can do to support their work. They’re likely to be under a lot of pressure responding to the cost-of-living crisis, so the last thing we want to do is create more work for them. Ask them what their biggest challenges are and how you can help tackle them. Whether that’s by helping to raise money, finding more volunteers, raising awareness, or putting pressure on decision makers.
- What skills do you have to offer? Sit down with your group and map out the skills you have. These might come from your groups’ campaigning experience, or from people’s personal or professional lives. For example, are you a social media pro, a whizz with numbers, or just good at chatting and getting to know people? These skills might be just the thing your partner needs!
Showing up for your community
Once you’ve mapped out what’s needed and the skills you can offer, start planning how you can support your local community. For example:
- Raise money. Lots of community organisations provide important services like social events, emergency food parcels, or advice. These things cost money to deliver and are often reliant on donations. Could you support the organisation by fundraising for them or collecting donations of food and essentials?
- Volunteer. Could you and your group give some regular time to your local community group to support their work? A few hours a week making teas and coffees, driving to collect supplies, or helping virtually with social media or admin might be just what’s needed.
- Raise awareness. If the organisation wants to raise its profile and share what it’s doing with the community, you could help by spreading the message within your own networks or posting on social media. This could help bring in funds, recruit volunteers, and build pressure locally.
- Speak out. If your group has lots of experience campaigning you might be able to help your partner speak out about the problems they’re tackling. Offer to help them write a press release to get local media coverage, or a letter to the council or local MP to make sure they’re aware of what’s going on in their community. This could really help build pressure to tackle the root causes of the issue.
- Keep in touch. During the pandemic, many communities set up mutual aid groups to keep in touch and offer help with things like shopping. The current cost-of-living crisis needs a similar response. Could your group set up a local WhatsApp or Facebook group to help point those struggling towards expert advice and help them feel less isolated?
The great thing about working together in solidarity is that we get to learn lots of new ideas from our community. So, make sure to develop your ideas with them.
By following these steps and working together we can help our communities stay motivated, support those facing fuel poverty, and build a movement that can change things for the better.