What Is Activism and How Do I Get Involved?

By Sian Kissock

Feeling a bit helpless and terrified over the state of the world? Want to do something and don’t know where to start? Activism gives a voice to those who would otherwise struggle to be heard.

The dictionary definition of activism is “the policy or action of using vigorous campaigning to bring about political or social change”. The good news is that it’s becoming more prevalent in our daily dialogue. People are becoming further aware of issues, and immersing themselves in direct action.

Here is our short guide about some of the ways to get involved:

Follow the newsTo develop views about what is going on in the world, you need to know what is going on in the first place. Try and get news from a range of sources to get a wider understanding of stories.  BBC and CNN are solid choices for neutrality, but some of the more opinionated pieces that would be seen in The Guardian or The Huffington Post are good too.

Know what you are passionate about – If you are supportive of LGBTQ+ Rights look into charities, campaigners and activists who also fight for that cause. The same goes for homelessness, animals, environmental issues and refugees, to name a few. This will make it easier in the long run for you to get educated and involved.

Educate yourself (and others) – Reading the news helps, but also look into the background of why it is happening, and what is being done to tackle it. If other people don’t know much about a particular issue, don’t think negatively – educate them with what you know, and encourage them to learn more about it.

Do not underestimate the power of social media – Even though it has its downs (heard about the rise of fake news?), social media is a platform to allow everyone to have their say. It is available to everyone, and this is especially relevant to those whose voices are often muted on the wider stage.  

Contact your representatives – It is easy to find who your MP and councillors are online if you don’t know already. Contact them, know how they can help you get involved and know what they can do for you; they’re the ones who make the laws that cause real change to people’s lives. Legislature won’t get rewritten overnight, but it helps if they can become aware of the issues their constituents are facing.

Go to safe protests – Taking physical action is a powerful move, especially when people come together in numbers. It sends a message, and people note that something is not right in society. Vulnerable groups around the world can see that crowds of people are on their side. Take as many posters and eye-catching banners as you can (Craftivist Collective is a company that does mini needle and thread banner kits that you can make), see if there’s going to be any high-profile speakers, but also educate yourself on what to do if any problems may arise; know your rights and what to do if it goes a bit wrong with police/clashing opinions. It happens, even if it’s not anticipated.

See what can be done ASAP – Marches have specific dates, and are usually organised a few weeks in advance. You don’t necessarily have to wait that long – look into petitions, donating to charities, assisting organisations and even just reaching out to other people who are passionate about the same cause too. Minimal effort, enormous impact.

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