SWU Union Contacts examine campaign successes

SWU Campaign Fund, SWU Union Contacts, Campaign Collective: creating positive change

Social Workers Union frontline organisers examined what it takes to run a successful campaign during a training session at the birthplace of the TUC in Manchester in September 2023.

Campaign Collective founder member Simon Francis discusses the SWU Campaign Fund with SWU Union contacts in Manchester on 23 September 2023.

Drawing on campaigns delivered by social enterprise Campaign Collective, those supported through the SWU Campaign Fund, and from the wider world, SWU Union Contacts examined the key themes that successful campaigns have in common.

The five key commonalities examined were:

1. Have a simple message and solution

The best campaigns have a slogan at their heart which is easy for supporters, or the public to remember. This can be used explicitly used in a campaign, such as the Less Survivable Cancers Taskforce’s “Let’s close the deadly cancer gap”. But it could be used more subtly but by a wider range of people, such as in media interviews or on social media, like the Warm This Winter campaign’s “Britain’s broken energy system”.

2. Bring together coalitions of supporters

These can be formal coalitions or more informal groupings of supporters, but it is unlikely that you will be able to achieve your campaign’s objectives by yourself. 

For formal coalitions, look for organisations who share your values and have a similar or aligned purpose. But for more informal groupings, you may also be able to involve people who may share your concerns but may not necessarily agree on the solutions. 

3. Organise visual actions and content

Given the vital importance of social media in campaigning, creating visual content should be a focus of activity. That’s not to say that every week has to have a protest! Even meetings of supporters on Zoom or infographics or quote cards can be used to get the message across.

4. People affected by the issue empowered to lead

The key to the success of the SWU Campaign Fund has been when people with lived experience of the issue have been given the skills and support they need to campaign for the issue they care about. In Scotland, two social work students secured a Government review into bursary funding for students – they even won awards from their peers recognising the impact they have made on the debate.  

5. Timing and reaction response

The news agenda is fast paced and rapidly changing. Therefore ensuring speedy response to issues is vital. But equally, campaign activity planned in advance also needs to be timed to ensure it has the biggest impact, such as the Fuel Poverty Action winter deaths protests.

Campaign Collective: What makes a good campaign (slideshow)

In the slideshow above you can see some of the successful campaigns that have been supported by Campaign Collective, including several led by SWU members through our very own Campaign Fund.

Do you have an idea for a campaign?