Work With Others
CAAT supporters can achieve a lot on their own, but even more when we work with others. The information in this guide will be useful to all of our supporters, including those who campaign individually. But whether you’re visiting your MP, setting up a street stall or planning a public meeting, it’s always good to share the work and encourage more people to get involved.
Find out if there is a CAAT group near you here: local groups
Making contact with other groups and campaigners in your local area is very important. There are lots of groups working on issues that overlap with our aim of ending the arms trade. Examples of such issue groups include those working on human rights such as local Amnesty International groups; international development such as Oxfam; other peace groups such as CND, Pax Christi and Stop the War; and environmental campaigners such as Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth. It may also be worth contacting local political parties, church or interfaith groups, trade union branches etc.
If you are already part of a local peace, human rights, environmental or international development group you could suggest that the group takes arms trade issues into account when undertaking their work. Or you could simply feed in information from CAAT News to the meeting.
Long-standing Local Contact Dorothy Forbes describes how networking has helped her develop CAATs activities in her area:
"As the local contact for a relatively small organisation, but one with a vitally important message, I have always found networking with other groups critical in putting that message across.
In the past couple of years my networking has become more (mainly non-party) political. It all started in the summer of 2006 when the war in Lebanon was at its height. Some of us spent a lot of time in the city centre, holding vigils and taking part in demos. With one hand attached to a banner I found the leaflets in my other hand being whisked out of it and, unusually, people were coming back for more. This was the CAAT leaflet calling for an arms embargo against Israel, which was tremendously popular among the large Muslim population of Birmingham.
During these weeks I went to many meetings held by various organisations concerned about the war and our government’s failure to take action. There was always an opportunity for discussion at these events; what I had to say about CAAT was received with interest and approval and, again, large numbers of the Stop Arming Israel leaflet were taken.
Since then I’ve continued to maintain these contacts. I’ve enjoyed visiting Mosques, something I had never done before, finding them to be extremely friendly and welcoming places. I have also invited my new contacts to join me in celebrating CAAT’s recent successes, and pointed out how even a very small organisation can achieve its objectives when it plans and focuses its campaigning in the way CAAT does."
Starting a local CAAT group
CAAT has supporters around the country who, like you, may be really keen to meet other CAAT supporters and take action together.
Tips for getting your group going
- Get in touch with the CAAT Local Campaigns Co-ordinator and she will make sure you have advice and support as you start your local CAAT group.
- Write to other CAAT supporters in your area. CAAT can ensure that your message for supporters in your area is sent out. In your initial mailing, you might like to include a survey to find out how people are interested in getting involved.
- Ring other CAAT supporters in your area. Pick a group of people who live near you, who responded to the survey or letter and give them a call! Even if people haven’t responded to the letter, you’ll be surprised by how many people will be willing to help out in some way.
- Personal links are really important in making people feel confident to get involved. Ask your friends whether they would like to join a CAAT group.
- Organise a first event. Once you know there are a few people interested, work with them to organise your first event. Information on organising a stall or public meeting can be found in the Raising Awareness section
- Or organise a group of people to come along to one of our national events, such as CAAT’s protest at the BAE AGM (usually in early May), or our National Gathering (usually held in November). The National Gathering is a great opportunity to get to know and swap ideas with fellow campaigners, as well as to meet CAAT’s staff.
- Once you have your group together, use this guide and CAAT’s other materials to think about what action you would like to take!
- As your group develops, make sure new members are offered support and encouragement. Take the time to celebrate success and campaigning achievements to keep group morale high!
Setting up a CAAT group
Yanna Whitehead, Local Contact for Chichester, outlines how she grew her group, which expanded from 2 to 40 people in 18 months:
"How to start a local CAAT group in a C(c)onservative area. As How to guides go, hopefully this is more convincing than How to place yourself above the Law – BAE Systems and Al Yamamah deals! Our CAAT group in Chichester (CACAAT) was launched when Sue Pike and I, supported by Chichester Quakers, organised a Raising Awareness Day for CAATs Shut DESO campaign. Within two hours over one hundred people had participated in CAAT’s poll and signed the petition at Chichester Cross, a central meeting point. Feedback we received emphasised there was an active interest in forming a group.
Subsequent Raising Awareness Days proved effective in campaigning and the CACAAT mailing list grew steadily. Supporters were involved in CAATs London events, links with the Local Campaigns Coordinator were developed and I was asked to become a local contact.
The catalyst that cemented and grew our group was CAATs Control BAE tour. We formed a small Steering Committee and worked hard to organise and promote the only south-east England tour date. On a stormy night over forty supporters, including some from Southampton, Liss and Worthing, were enthused by the key speakers from CAAT and The Corner House.
In the run up to the Judicial Review into BAE- Saudi arms deals, several CACAAT members found themselves spontaneously approached while out and about locally. Word of mouth really works!
We now have six Steering Committee members coordinating specific roles and links with local Amnesty International, United Nations Association, World Development Movement (Worthing, Portsmouth), Churches Together in Chichester, S.E.Hants Peace Council, Chichester University and Chichester College.
Vitally CACAAT has a strong, active record of shared support and effective campaigning. We believe that every journey starts with one small step. CACAAT forges ahead with enthusiasm and commitment."