Making Mutual Aid Groups Work

So you’ve got a whatsapp group on your street. What next?

Covid-19 has forced many of us to change our lives in ways that few would have imagined only weeks ago. One of the silver linings is that neighbours are coming together to support one another in ways many have never seen. There are over 2,000 mutual aid groups in the UK, which goes to show that people care about each other and want to get through this together.

As exciting as this all is, it’s also really challenging to organise with new people, especially when we can’t meet face to face. As a way of supporting this, Resist + Renew have developed four workshops to help your mutual aid group think about how you want to work going forward.

Session 1: What’s our mutual aid group for? [Tuesday, April 14, 7:00-8:30pm UK time]

Session 2: Working together better online [Tuesday, April 201, 7:00-8:30pm UK time]

Session 3: What to do when we don’t agree [Tuesday, April 28, 7:00-8:30pm UK time]

Session 4: Looking after ourselves while we look after each other [Tuesday, May 5, 7:00-8:30pm UK time]

If you’re interested in signing up for one or several of these sessions, fill out this form by Friday the 10th of April. We are limiting the number of participants to make sure the sessions can be interactive. Places will be given to people from different locations around the UK and who are focussed on local organising. For those who can’t attend we will be creating resources that your group can take and share.

Free Facilitation Training – London 25th of August

Meetings! Loads of people organise through meetings, and a good meeting or a bad meeting can make all the difference. Facilitation can seem intimidating, or is often not well understood, but it’s a core part of good meetings.

This training will dig down into what makes a good facilitator, and give you some good practice at it.

We will:

  • understand and practice ‘active listening’
  • chat about what meetings are for, and what makes a good meeting
  • discuss power and responsibility in meetings
  • work out what makes a great facilitator
  • talk about the different parts of a meeting, and preparing for meetings
  • discuss ‘dominant’ or ‘challenging’ behaviour in meetings, while thinking about power and privilege
  • work out tools for holding space for people in meetings

Does this sound good to you? Reserve your place and find out our venue by emailing [email protected]

The workshop is from 10 am to 5 pm on the 25th of August.

The venue will be wheelchair accessible and have an accessible toilet. It is in central London.

We will have regular breaks as part of the day, and participants are encouraged to bring something as part of a shared lunch.

Direct Action Training with African Rainbow Family

At the end of July we were invited to the monthly meeting of the very inspiring African Rainbow Family in Manchester to have a discussion and training about direct action.

African rainbow family is a lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex support group for Africans living in the UK. It was established by a lesbian in the wake of the toxic and draconian anti-gay laws, persecutions and environment which seek to criminalise #LGBTIQs for the preference of whom they choose to love. ARF seeks to work with the growing African #LGBTIQ asylum seeking and refugees communities who face constant harassment, hate crimes and discrimination heaped on them by an ignorant society because of their sexuality or sexual preferences as well as trans phobia.

As with all our trainings we want to work with what people already know and have experienced, so we mainly discussed actions related to migration and borders. We looked at a variety of different case studies including:

  • Theatrical interventions to raise awareness
  • Demos – such as those outside detention centres
  • Blockades
  • Strikes – such as the successes by the LSE Cleaners
  • Subvertising

Given that participants had experiences of the immigration detention system, we also were able to discuss what it’s like to be in detention and to know that people are outside supporting you. One woman was in Yarl’s Wood detention centre, and felt that because she was connected to a number of different support groups outside, she felt stronger and felt like the Home Office was pressured to release her after a few days. This, for her, showed the importance of going to demonstrations outside detention centres and telling people they are not alone.

When it comes to direct action and breaking the law there are clearly risks involved and some people are more able to take those risks than others. If people are undocumented or are in the process of getting their asylum claim reviewed it’s probably not the best idea to get arrested as it could quite easily lead to being put in a detention centre or be deported. But actions aren’t just made possible by people who get arrested – there are a variety of types of actions and a variety of roles required to make a successful action, which means there’s a need for all levels of risk.

None of this is to say that anyone should be told they shouldn’t take action. As one woman said ‘I’ve got nothing left to lose!’ and was keen to show solidarity and make sure others aren’t deported however she could.

We are really grateful for being invited to work with the African Rainbow Family and look forward to working with them again in the future. To keep up to date with them you can follow them on Facebook.

Science Fiction-ing!

In the past few weeks we’ve run a couple of our Sci Fi, Storytelling and Revolution workshops. The first was a day long version at DIY Space for London and the second was an hour long taster at Noisly Fesitival.

In both cases, we look at the relevance Sci Fi can have in brining about social change, or revolution, which among other things is about increasing our collective abilities to imagine futures we want , which is a necessary step in working towards them.

A new adition to these workshops has been about turning Sci Fi into a verb – doing Science Fiction – or Science Fiction-ing. Writer adrienne marie brown, in her book Emergent Strategy, talks about how after imagining the futures we want we need to start practicing them, now.

So this is what we’ve been asking people to do, using a role plays and theatre. In the couple of times we’ve done this so far we’ve had amazingly creative performances and super interesting questions raised such as:

  • What do we do when we no longer need to work?
  • If healthcare extends life indefinitely, when do you decide to die?
  • How should we live in communal and sustainable ways?
  • What forms of justice do we want instead of police and prisons?

At no point do we provide concrete answers, but perhaps that’s not the point, rather we want to open the spaces for discussions and to practice solving these questions as we walk towards the futures we want.

Keep an eye out on our Facebook page for more of these events, as we keep coming up with new ways to imagine futures!

White is not a neutral colour, with London Black Atheists

At the end of June we ran an anti-racist workshop, entitled White is not a neutral colour (originally the title of a Navigate workshop), at SOAS in London.

In the workshop we explored our identities, experiences of race and racism, and feelings of belonging. These are tricky topics and at times the workshop was uncomfortable, with people sharing personal histories or challenging each other respectfully. We are really grateful for everyone who came and contributed to such a learning environment where things could get that little bit uncomfortable to help us all to learn. As one participant said ‘I felt there was an effort to make people safe enough to be uncomfortable’, and that effort was made by everyone, not just the facilitators.

As facilitators we were certainly learning too!

A consistent bit of feedback we got was ‘I wish there was more time!’ – us too! Unfortunately, unpicking racism is a huge task and not one that you can even begin to scratch the surface of in a couple of hours. However, we’ll keep experimenting with our shorter and longer workshop formats to get as much out of the time as possible.

If you’re interested in us running a workshop like this for your group – then please get in touch. Or if you want to hear about future workshops like this in the future sign up to our mailing list below or like us on Facebook.

Finally, we’d like to say a big thank you to London Black Atheists for inviting us to run this workshop and we hope to see you again soon!


Exploring Collective Liberation

On the weekend of the 9th of February, Resist and Renew ran the first weekend residential on the theme of Exploring Collective Liberation. In the final hours before the participants arrived at the venue, we did our last bits of preparation and ran through the agenda for the whole weekend. In the run up we had spent a lot of time thinking about and planning the journey we thought would be most useful for the participants – but we had no idea how they would respond to it and what ideas and energy they would bring to the space – we had built the framework, but how would they fill it?

Part of the motivation for running this course was to respond to the growing awareness and need for solidarity, but move away from debilitating feelings of guilt and shame. This, however, doesn’t mean shying away from difficult conversations around power and privilege, but going through them and beyond them. This requires that we challenge ourselves. This is one of the things we asked our participants on the first evening – how can you challenge yourself? This came as a part of a session on how we want to treat each other, what can we do do make things ‘safer’ for one another, and how would we want to be treated in a conflict situation over the weekend? These were big questions to ask on a Friday evening, but they also laid the necessary groundwork for the group to work together over the rest of the weekend.

Much of the next day was focused on our identities – who are we, what makes us who we are, where do we come from – in the widest possible sense? Games and different ways of performing our similarities and differences helped to explore this. Identity, of course, is not a static thing and neither is it an inherent thing that we are born with. In part it is produced by society and that process is political – we therefore looked to politicise our identities, rooting them in history and examining some of the ideas and philosophies that have shaped how we see one another today. We also asked how these might play out in our organising today and experimented with how we might change it.

Mapping our individual, collective and political histories

On our final day we explored the concept of solidarity, looking at how it has been done in the past and thinking about how to begin to integrate some of the learnings we came up with into our groups to do solidarity better in the future.

Ultimately, these are lifelong questions we will all hopefully be working on, but we’re really grateful for all the participants who came along to this event. They modelled a great sense of vulnerability and trust in sharing with each other and they’ve given us a lot to think about in planning for our next events.

Resist + Renew Cycle Summer School

16 August – 22 August 2017
London to Germany

This year we are happy to be collaborating with Time to Cycle running a cycling summer school exploring how to affect social change.

Over the five days of the cycle we will be taking time to hold workshops, discussions and games along the way, so we’ll be learning and sharing on the move!

The workshops will all be participatory and will evolve as the cycle goes on. However as a basic structure we will be exploring:

What are the crises we are living through and how does it feel to live in these times?

Who are we? What privileges, power and responsibilities do we have?

What action can we take to affect change in these times?

Whilst we will be cycling with the rest of the Time to Cycle crew, we are asking for separate registration for the Cycle School. This is because we want people to commit to the entire school as we are hoping to explore quite challenging themes so we’re hoping to keep a tight group and build group trust. However, we’re not looking to be a separate group and will be organising games and sharing circles for the whole group too.

Alongside, this event we will be cycling to Ende Gelande, the largest mass action against a open pit coal mine in the Rhineland, Germany.

To sign up – simply send us an email to [email protected] saying who you are and why you’re interested in taking part in the Cycle School.

Direct Action Training at Peace News Summer Camp 2017

Burston Rd
Diss, Norfolk
IP22 5SX

Want to get involved in direct actions but not sure how? Have you already been involved and want to share your experiences? Are you planning to get involved with a mass action like Ende Galende or stop DESI and want to feel more confident? If so, or your just curious, this is the workshop for you!

We’ll explore what direct action is and try out some basic techniques. We aim for the workshop to be fun, participatory and to break down any notion that direct action is a ‘macho’ thing.

This workshop is part of the Peace News Summer Camp. Full details are available here

The Role of Radical Speculative Fiction

Workshop + Zine Making: Seeing Beyond the Crises

2 PM – 5 PM, 1 July 2017
Grow Heathrow, London

In our current context of Trump in the Whitehouse, austerity and crises across Europe, the rise of the far right and the ever looming threat of catastrophic climate change it can be hard to find hope for radical social change these days.

In this participatory workshop we’ll explore what it feels like to live in this world and examine the role speculative fiction, such as Ursula Le Guin’ – The Dispossessed or Marge Piercy’s – Woman on the Edge of Time, can play in helping us imagine better futures.

We’ll also have the chance to make our own zines of the futures we imagine.

The workshop will be held at Grow Heathrow, who some say is a squat-topia in our time. After the workshop stay for the open mic night and party from 7pm. There will be spaces for guests to stay the night.


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