Campaigning during coronavirus

Lessons from UK civil society

18 May 2021Bond and others

Civil society campaigning has been the driving force behind many of society’s greatest reforms.

Campaigning amplifies collective experiences and citizens’ views, influences policy, enables people to participate in social change, and holds those in power accountable.

Despite the public benefit of campaigning, many campaigners have until now struggled to engage with government ministers, civil servants and parliamentarians. Over the years, indifferent and even hostile attitudes among some decision makers have translated into a host of restrictions on what campaigners can say and do.

To support, improve and advocate for civil society campaigning, this report was produced by Bond, Quakers in Britain, ACEVO, NCVO, Sheila McKechnie Foundation and Unlock Democracy, with the Civil Society Voice network.

Ten successful campaigns during coronavirus

This report looks in detail at a selection of impactful campaigns launched during the first year of the pandemic, examining how they shaped responses to Covid-19 in the UK for the better. These case studies demonstrate the important contribution campaigning has made during the crisis. Each shows how different groups of people and organisations came together to raise awareness and make a tangible difference to people’s lives.

Trends undermining campaigning and recommendations for government

The second part of the report looks at the political and operating environment within which these campaigns took place and makes the case for a new framework that better protects the right to campaign in the UK. While the pandemic presented campaigners with many challenges, from moving online to surviving funding cuts, it has also revealed the power and benefit of campaigning. But rather than recognising the important support campaigners provided in the pandemic response over the last year, the UK government is moving ahead with plans to place greater restrictions on the right to protest and limit access to judicial review – an important check on the government.

As we enter the second year of the pandemic, our framework calls on the government and parliamentarians to recognise the contribution campaigners have made to the UK response to Covid-19 so far, by resetting the relationship between civil society and decision makers, and protecting the right to campaign.

Hear from the people behind some of these inspiring campaigns and how they achieved change in a challenging political environment at the online Bond Conference on 25 May 2021.

Download Report