How to find allies to work with
Find allies is a key part of campaigning locally and running your group. And community mapping is a good way to start. Here's how it works.
1. Draw 4 concentric circles.
2. Map out everyone you know on the circles. Put people or groups you have a closer relationship with nearer to the centre. The less well you know them, the further out you put them. You could make it location specific – only mapping out people relevant to a specific city or region. It should look something like this:
* Be as specific as you can when jotting down group names.
3. Think again. Have you mapped the cleaners at work? The dinner ladies at school? Your book club? Your dance class? That lovely old guy at the coffee shop you always see?
4. What makes each person or group on the map passionate? What are their interests? What kind of skills and resources might they have. Are any of them well-networked?
5. Circle a list of potential people and groups to approach.
6. Select 4 or 5 to actually approach. Write down how you are going to approach them. Where? How? When? What is your specific ask?
7. Go and do it, and keep coming back to this map to update it and find more inspiration.
More ways to use community mapping
It will help you identify people in your community who might help fill any skills or resources gaps and help run your local group or campaigns. For example, do you need someone to help with social media? Do you need access to a councillor? Or is there anyone on your map you could approach or who might know someone else?
This map is all about who you know. But it also reveals who you don't know. Is your map truly representative of your wider community? Or is it narrow in regards to age, gender, socio-economic class, ethnicity, or religion? What can you do to widen your social network? Don’t expect people to come to you, you need to go to them.
It’s worth thinking about how to build connections with:
- Faith centres, such as mosques, synagogues, churches and temples.
- Places of higher education, like colleges and universities. Students' Unions usually have elected officers who can include an Environment and Ethics Officer. And the Student Volunteer Coordinator might also be helpful, as might a People and Planet Society.
- Schools, particularly with key staff and Parent Teacher Associations.
- Local political parties and elected representatives such as a Member of Parliament (MP), a Member of European Parliament (MEP) and councillors. Do make sure to respect party political impartiality.
- Local women’s groups or feminist societies.
- Health centres such as doctors surgeries or local issue-based groups.
- Disabled People's Organisations.
- Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic Organisations.
- Other local community or campaigning groups, especially any working on issues similar to the ones you care about.