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 (Co-Director) 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.
Charlotte Millar (Co-Director) Charlotte oversees the training strategy in NEON and is the lead coach on NEON OrgBuilders. She previously ran Campaign Lab, which created the foundations for NEON’s current training programmes: Movement Builders and OrgBuilders. She is also a co-founder of the Finance Innovation Lab.
Ayeisha Thomas-Smith (Senior Training Organiser) Ayeisha leads on design and delivery of NEON’s national training for activists and campaigners, Movement Builders. She co-founded KIN, a network for black activists working for collective liberation, and also presents the Weekly Economics Podcast, Economics with Subtitles for BBC R4 and The Why Factor for BBC World Service. She has previously worked on political strategy and campaigns with Compass, peace and dialogue in Israel/Palestine with the Oxford Research Group, and coordinated migration campaigns and projects with Itinerant Works and Migrants Rights Network.
Rosie Baines (Senior 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.
George Woods (Head of Organising) George manages NEON’s programmes to build the power of organisers and campaigners across social movements in Britain. He mentors and coaches leaders, and leads on networking and other specialist events for our membership. George has fifteen years of experience in social movements, with a background in the trade union movement. He is currently an advisor to We Own It, a public ownership campaign group.
Funmibi Ogunlesi (Assistant Press 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.
Matthew Butcher (Head of Comms) 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.
Fikir Assefa (Operations and Events Officer) Fikir is responsible for supporting NEON’s training, events and day-to-day operations. Fikir previously worked in administration at the University of Leeds and as a freelancer on events around the city. She continues to support local social justice groups and events, with fundraising and events support.
Kevin Smith (Senior Press Officer) 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.
Juliet Michaelson (Head of Operations) Juliet is responsible for NEON’s operations, including our financial and staff systems and processes, legal compliance and board administration. Previously Juliet led the wellbeing programme at the New Economics Foundation and has undertaken a number of other social research and policy roles. She is currently a board member of Rethinking Economics, a charity which campaigns for pluralism within the economics discipline.
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 5 organisers includes:
- Paul Cotterill (Treasurer, and acting Chair): Director, Bickerstaffe Children’s Services
- Wilf Sullivan: Race Equality Officer, TUC
- Sirio Canós Donnay: Podemos/15-M organiser and Anthropologist
- Sam Tarry: Political Officer, TSSA (Transport Salaried Staff Association)
- Howard Reed: Director, Landman Economics
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.