What is NEON?
NEON is a network of over 650 UK organisers from different trade unions, grassroots groups, non-governmental organisations (NGOs), faith-based campaigns, political parties, civil society groups and movements from across the country. We run powerful trainings and support campaigns to help progressives win social, economic and environmental justice.
NEON builds the power of movements for social and economic justice.
From climate change to poverty, and migrants’ rights to the housing crisis, we believe that many of the biggest challenges of our time stem from the same structural problems in our economy. Currently we have an economic system which drives inequality, poverty and environmental destruction. NEON supports people working to bring about an economy and society that instead:
- prioritises human need
- ends poverty and creates a much more equal society
- ends racism and discrimination
- looks after the planet that we and future generations depend on.
By supporting each other’s struggles and learning new ways to act together, and respecting our differences, we build powerful movements that win.
Why is NEON needed?
We need more connected, focused and skillful organising. That’s because right now, despite notable gains, the progressive movement faces huge challenges. The rise of ethnic nationalism is terrifying and most indicators in the UK, and globally, are going backwards: from climate change to the rise in racism and inequality.
These issues require systemic changes to our economy and society; this will take progressive movements that are aligned, skillful and strong. NEON is here to help build them.
How does NEON work?
NEON has three key goals:
- connect people, organisations and movements
- focus our movements on key battles
- build the leaders and organisations we need to win.
NEON’s theory of change operates on two levels. In the short term we directly help people with skills, connection and support. That creates impact like media hits, new campaigns launched or successful solidarity across movements on key battleground issues.
In the longer term, the bet is that by building deep relationships and alignment between progressive movements that we’ll see a new cohort of leaders and groups able to win lasting change.
Our work is based around a strong belief in the power of organising, the centrality of anti-oppression work, the importance of experimenting until we get it right and working with international organisers. Because our impact comes from our members we stay behind the scenes and stay small, intentional and nimble.
Anti-oppression is central to the struggle for a more equal and sustainable world and integral to our work at NEON. You can read a summary of our wider anti-oppression strategy – covering what we’ve achieved to date, where we’ve got it wrong and where we plan to go next – anti-oppression at NEON.
What is NEON’s impact?
Our impact comes through the groups we serve – over our first few years we’ve achieved:
- The largest UK network of progressive organisers totaling over 600 people from across 900 organisations and dozens of movements; providing a space for dialogue and alignment between groups who wouldn’t otherwise meet
- Over 1,400 high profile TV/Radio appearances, including Channel 4 News, the Today programme, Radio 5 Live, Sky News, Al Jazeera and Newsnight
- An active core leadership of about 200 who are now in leading positions across many of the top UK groups from Greenpeace to The Guardian to leading new movements
- Trained over 2,000 organisers in a range of skills from campaign strategy to leadership, political education to how to speak in the media using the toolkit we’ve developed
- Providing direct support to many of the most exciting groups from media work on Bridges Not Walls to training for shadow cabinet members on economic justice
- Helping launch dozens of new campaigns from supporting patients to organise against big pharma ripping off our NHS through to challenging the use of water cannons on London’s streets
Who is NEON?
NEON is a small organisation our programmes are led by a small core staff team. We’ve operated independently since we left NEF where we were based until summer 2015.
Daniel Vockins (Executive Director: Strategy and Fundraising) Daniel co-founded NEON in 2013, he leads on organisational strategy and fundraising. Before leaving to work full time on NEON, Daniel was a Principle Director at NEF (New Economics Foundation). He works alongside colleagues to build new pieces of the organisation from our first Campaign Lab training and political education courses to our new Communications Hub. Daniel was a co-founder of Campaign Bootcamp and the climate campaign 10:10. He’s written on progressive movement infrastructure and is interested in helping build the ecology of groups and movements we need to win lasting change.
Rachel Diamond-Hunter (Executive Director: Organisational Development) Rachel co-runs NEON with Dan. And specifically leads on all things organisational development, which for NEON includes anti-oppression and culture, HR and people, operations and finance. She’s worked for over a decade in the world of organising, campaigning and politics, she’s the co-founder of Jewish anti-occupation movement Na’amod, and sits on the board of The Advocacy Academy. In her spare time, she’s also training to be a psychotherapist.
Ayeisha Thomas-Smith (Director: Movement Building Hub) Ayeisha provides strategic leadership for the Movement Building Hub within NEON, comprised of our Organising, Training and Coaching work. She is currently doing a PhD at Goldsmiths University of London looking at neoliberalism and social justice work, and in 2017 she co-founded KIN, a network for black activists working for collective liberation. Ayeisha also presents the Weekly Economics Podcast, Economics with Subtitles for BBC R4 and The Why Factor for BBC World Service.
Matthew Butcher (Director: Communications Hub) Matthew heads up NEON’s communications work and the Comms Hub. He works with press officers, spokespeople and campaigners to help them get the messages that matter to the people who need to hear them. He previously worked for Caroline Lucas MP, a member of the European Parliament and campaign group Share Action.
Funmibi Ogunlesi (Communications Officer) Funmibi supports the Communications Hub and the Spokesperson Network. She has a BSc in Sociology from The University of Bristol and previously interned at policy network company Apolitical. She is interested in using media to talk about environmental justice, racial injustice and colonialism with specific focus on Nigeria and other countries in the South.
Rosie Baines (Senior Regional Press Officer) Rosie runs the regional Spokesperson Network, which trains up progressive and diverse voices to speak in the media. The regional Spokesperson Network is part of the Communications Hub which also houses the New Economy Spokesperson Network. Rosie was previously a press officer at a number of national museums and is a member of the campaign group, Museum Detox.
Heather Clancy (Press Officer) Heather works on the North West Spokesperson Network, which trains up progressive and diverse voices to speak in the regional media. Heather is an experienced journalist and has previously worked for the BBC in various roles, producing stories across the UK and abroad.
Kevin Smith (Head of Media) Kevin runs the New Economy Spokesperson Network, and has over 12 years of press and media experience for NGOs, social movements and grassroots groups. Formally the communications manager at Global Justice Now he has a focus on trade, climate and oil campaigns, and has developed countless campaign activities into national stories and front pages. He has carried out media trainings from the local to the international level, and has managed social media channels for a series of different organisations.
Dora Meade (Head of Messaging) heads up the framing and narrative work at NEON. She is experienced in working with campaigners, spokespeople and coalitions to develop framing strategies and authentic, powerful messaging. She has a particular interest in finding the rights words to advocate for a new economic system. Formerly Network Lead at The Public Interest Research Centre (PIRC) and Lead Organiser at Positive Money. She is an associate at the Future Narratives Lab and co-author of Framing the Economy.
Fikir Assefa (Senior Programme Management Officer) Fikir is the Senior Programme Management Officer at NEON. She previously worked supporting research academics in Leeds, while doing operational and fundraising support for social justice groups around the city. She is passionate about human-centred processes, making social change work happen smoothly, and creating spaces that allow everyone to feel safe, heard and supported.
Grace Buddery (Programme and Office Assistant) Grace supports NEON’s hubs with logistics for core trainings and programmes. Grace has a BA (Hons) in Humanities: War, Conflict and Modernity from the University of Brighton. Since graduating she has worked in the Charity and University sectors, with a focus on operations and events support.
Ilona Leighton-Goodall (Operations Officer) Ilona works with the operations team to ensure the organisation run smoothly, focussing in particular on HR & finance. She is always looking for ways to improve systems for the benefit of the people involved. She has previously worked in arts management, media & retail.
Hodan Sirad (Senior Finance Manager) is responsible for financial reporting, supporting Hub Directors with budget management, as well as day to day bookkeeping. Prior to working at NEON, she worked as a production accountant in television working on scripted comedies, factual entertainment & documentaries. She is currently studying towards her CIMA qualification.
Esme Duggleby (Head of Movement Training) Esme, brings with them a love of all things education, learning and critical pedagogy. Having worked in a wide variety of educational settings including early years, young adults, workplace training and community learning, they credit everything they have learnt to the ten years they spent as a Nanny before returning to education as a mature student. They joined NEON from Stonewall where they developed and delivered programmes on LGBT identities. They have a particular passion for accessibility and how complex ideas can be shared with a range of audiences. Outside of work they can be found obsessing over pop icons and watching dogs on TikTok.
Gauri Goyal (Head of Organising) leads NEON’s work on elevating organising strategy and practice across our programmes to strengthen social movements. Hailing from the great city of Los Angeles, Gauri has over a decade of experience with community-based organisations in the US fighting for social and economic justice. Most recently she was an organiser with Unison’s Strategic Organising Unit where she focused on the rights of migrant and outsourced workers in the NHS.
Carrie Magee (Head of Movement Coaching) leads on all things coaching, providing specialist support to organisations to build capacity, skills and resilience across movements. With a background in teaching, training and organisational development in the third and non-profit sectors, Carrie is particularly interested in unpacking structures and systems of power and privilege, and what anti-oppression really looks like in practice.
We collaborate with a large number of contractors and partner organisations preferring to work together to deliver our programmes. We do hire new positions from time to time – which are listed on our jobs page.
NEON's board of directors
Vic Langer (Chair)
A campaigner at heart, the first part of Vic’s career was in the Student Movement, where she supported students to run and win campaigns. For the last six years Vic worked in the Policy, Advocacy and Campaigns division of Save the Children UK, working on issues like child survival, equity in international development, and ending child marriage. Most recently Vic has turned her hand to organisational transformation and leadership. She is currently the Interim-CEO of Consonant, a small charity that supports asylum seekers and migrants
Paul Cotterill (Treasurer)
Paul trained as a nurse, specialising in ophthalmics. After work in London and Switzerland he spent several years in Bangladesh, India and Tanzania, primarily with aid agency Concern Worldwide. On return to the UK, Paul became involved in community development and organising work. He has been a trustee to several charities, including the Lankelly Chase Foundation and now Medact, and has had governance roles in primary, secondary and higher education, as well as being a Non-Executive Director in the NHS. He lives in Lancashire and still fancies himself as a decent left arm swing bowler, despite being very clearly over the hill.
Minnie is a writer and campaigner specialising in migrants’ rights, climate change and social justice. After working in both the European and UK Parliament for 5 years as a political advisor, she helped coordinate the campaign to uncover the Windrush scandal with the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants. She is now leading on campaigns to scrap the “hostile environment” and to get new rights for undocumented migrants.
Victoria Cabral has over 10 years of experience working on human rights policy, advocacy and community engagement. Victoria’s roles and employment history have centred around managing and implementing programs of work that advance the agency and voice of traditionally marginalised groups. Currently working at Black Thrive, Victoria is responsible for working with local communities and statutory services to tackle and address deeply entrenched racial inequalities by driving organisational and systems level change across both statutory and voluntary organisations in Lambeth.
Ilyas Nagdee is a writer and activist campaigning on a whole range of issues around civil liberties, racism, Islamophobia and state surveillance. He was the former NUS Black Students’ Officer where he led national campaigning on decolonising the academy & abolishing Prevent. He has been published by Routledge, Unbound and others on topics around the British Empire, Islamophobia and racism. He currently works on racism in higher education in Brighton, though his heart yearns to return to his home city, Manchester.
Dash is a data privacy professional at PricewaterhouseCoopers, with extensive experience of developing and delivering risk management strategies for public and private sector entities. He previously held a role as education officer at Edinburgh University Students Association, leading campaigns against the casualisation of university labour and student-staff co-creation of curriculum. Dash is also a researcher and activist, working on migrant support and climate change action locally in Edinburgh.
Chris is an organiser, trade unionist and laughably amateur carpenter from Luton. Coming of age at the height of the English Defence League’s presence in the town gave him a passion for community antifascism, and he’s currently a coordinator for the HOPE not hate Charitable Trust, exploring resilience and optimism in areas vulnerable to extremist rhetoric – particularly that of the far right. He’s also the founder and head of Britain Has Class, a grassroots movement of working class youth activists.
We are currently funded by the Open Society Foundation, The Oak Foundation, The KR Foundation, Friends Provident, JRCT, Barrow Cadbury, Unbound Philanthropy, the Pickwell Foundation, Partners For a New Economy, The Paul Hamlyn Foundation and individual donations. We’re always looking for more funding – so if you’re interested in funding get in touch or head over to our donate page to find out more.