Training the next generation of movement leaders

Movement Builders

Movement Builders Online (MB) training July 2021 – Applications now open! Find out more and apply here.

What is Movement Builders?

Movement Builders is a five-day intensive training for people working towards big systemic change. Half theory, half practical tools, this course will put you in a room with 30 organisers.  We aim to help connect you with other people across the movement; develop a shared language and tools around the strategy, story and structure you need to win; and foster a relational and collaborative culture.

What is Movement Builders?

The training will be focused around four core themes:

  • Context and analysis: what’s the current state your movement, what are the characteristics of successful social movements, what can you learn from them and build on what they’ve won today?
  • Strategy: If you can’t set the strategy for a whole movement, how do you think strategically within your movement and make the biggest contribution to the wider struggle. 
  • Story: how do you tell more compelling stories about your issue and frame the problem in a way that makes more people share your point of view?
  • Structure: How can you best organise your group to absorb new members and how do you maximise the power of those already involved?


Testimonials from Movement Builders: 

Ian Manborde, Ruskin University & TUC

I am not sure I have ever experienced an educational environment with such energy, dynamism and focus – it was outstanding!

Ian Manborde, Ruskin University & TUC
Robert Holtam, Queer Warriors

I learned so much, met many, many great people and feel my work has been powercharged by all the wisdom and passion.

Robert Holtam, Queer Warriors
Rowan Mataram, Rethinking Economics

I’ve attended many activst-y training things in the past and none have been so clear in their provision of a structure that is easily applicable to all form of organising, from grass-roots groups to NGO’s.

Rowan Mataram, Rethinking Economics
Rachel Tam Hau-Yu, Community Organiser

A role model programme. Empowering, inclusive and LOVING. A school for lifelong movers and shakers, cultivating dedication, creativity and how to love and enable each other to build what we see but don’t believe is possible.

Rachel Tam Hau-Yu, Community Organiser

Want to learn how to improve your organising in a warm, supportive environment punctuated by gentle cussing and ’90’s boyband vibes? Pick NEON. No one else is doing it.

Laura Barker, BLM UK

Meet the Trainers

Ayeisha Thomas-Smith is a Senior Training Organiser at the New Economy Organisers Network, and lead on designing and developing the Movement Builders course. She’s also the co-founder of KIN – a UK wide network for black activists, educators and campaigners. She has previously worked on political strategy and campaigns with Compass, on peace and dialogue in Israel/Palestine with the Oxford Research Group, and coordinated campaigns and project around migration. Ayeisha is a black feminist committed to thinking through what it takes to build resilient, effective social movements to make change happen and centres anti-oppression, decoloniality and intersectionality in her approach to training. She also teaches a Basic Beyonce dance class – all levels welcome!




Nim Ralph is a community activist and freelance trainer, facilitator and writer. They work extensively in QTIPOC, feminist and decolonial activism at a community and peer level.  In addition to this, Nim has held a number of strategic roles in the anti-racist, LGBTQI, women’s and disability sectors. They co-founded QTIPOC London, Purple Rain Collective and are an inaugural member of the Edge Fund. Previous to this they co-founded and directed So We Stand; an organisation linking environmental, social and racial justice in the UK. This won Nim an Olive Morris Memorial Award for activism and was named a Guardian “Youth Climate Leader”.Currently, they are the Lead Trainer at Campaign Bootcamp in the UK and they work internationally with activist groups, campaign organisations and NGOs to train, facilitate and support the interrogation of anti-oppression. They are particularly committed to Direct Education, understanding group culture, and transformative processes. They bring humour, compassion and patience to their work. They also love to lip-sync battle.




James Robertson is an activist, freelance trainer, facilitator and musician. He works primarily on designing strategy, campaign framing, democratic processes and political education. Previously he developed strategy and governance for NUS, evaluated campaign impact for Jubilee Debt Campaign, managed the Campaign and Democracy Support department at Leeds University Students’ Union and co-founded New Internationalist Campaigners – a subsidiary of New Internationalist Media co-op. Outside of work, James makes music as half of an electronic soul duo called Equals.


Who is it for?

Participants on Movement Builders will also be keen to share the things they learnt from the training with others outside of the group and committed to building the capacity of those they organise with to become movement leaders. We’re after people who are intent on building a social movement around the issues they’re working on and see movements as an integral part of how large-scale social change happens. Movement Builders participants are keen to explore ways to collaborate strategically with others who are working to tackle the same problem, but perhaps with different approaches or theories of change.

Movement Builders cohorts are made up of people who understand the importance of both self and collective care to the work we do, and believe that building and sustaining a culture based on anti-oppression, deep understanding and solidarity is central to the change we want to see. We would also hope that participants would be open to being a part of an ongoing community of practice with NEON after the training, supporting and exploring collaborations with other Movement Builders alumni.

If you feel you already know some of the tools you might need to move your movement, and are keen to engage with others who have tried and tested them, this is for you. If in your current organising, you find yourself needing other people around you that are in the same fight, this training is for you. And if you want to learn from inspiring social movements around the world, Movement Builders is for you.


Developed collaboratively over 9 months, the course draws on the wealth of skills, knowledge and know-how from people within the NEON network and beyond who’ve either led movements or spent decades thinking and learning about what it takes to build and sustain them.

As well as drawing on the Momentum and Movement Ecology content from the AYNI Institute in the US, NEON’s Movement Builders programme has an advisory group comprised of representatives from Cosecha, Take Back the City, Hope Not Hate, Sisters Uncut, Oxford University, University of East London,, Public Interest Research Centre, and the National Union of Teachers. The programme is also supported by partners and stakeholders from PodemosMovimiento 15M, Migrants Rights Network, and Sum of Us.

The course continues to change and grow after each training, with Movement Builders alumni from London, Manchester, Glasgow, Cardiff, Leeds and our Hostile Environment special feeding into the content and pedagogy as well as forming the basis of our community or practice who actively collaborate across regions and borders.