Closing Campaign Bootcamp

We're announcing the heartbreaking news that Campaign Bootcamp will be closing in early 2022.

Campaign Bootcamp was set up with an ambition to equip individuals and communities across the UK and beyond with the tools, confidence and community needed to run powerful campaigns. Over 8 years, we’ve trained over 1,300 graduates of our programmes to do just that. 

Over the last month, the Bootcamp trustees have been in a collective consultation with staff about the future of the charity. At the end of the consultation period, we have reached the heartbreaking realisation that we need to bring Campaign Bootcamp as a charity to a close in the coming months.

We want to share a bit about why this was necessary, but first we want to celebrate the amazing things our staff, trainers, graduates, and community have done.

Bootcamp graduates have waged important, successful campaigns across a range of issues, winning change through record breaking petitions, testifying before Parliament, appearing in the national and international press, organising demonstrations and direct action stunts, raising thousands through crowdfunders and fundraising campaigns, challenging and changing laws and getting elected to local government. 

At the centre of this has been an amazing community of individuals who have come together to help to shape the work that we’ve done. It’s through the time, dedication, and a willingness of those to take part in training, share strategies and stories of success (and failure), or commit time and effort to shape and improve our work that our community has been able to achieve so much. 

Through our programmes, the Bootcamp community has helped to radically transform, diversify and change the training landscape in the UK. These programmes have included the 17 Campaign Bootcamp residentials that have taken place; the pioneering Everyday Activism programme which has provided training to groups across the UK; and our Train the Trainer work, including the recent UNPACKED programme, which has equipped many with tools to support others in their campaigning journeys together. 

How we got to this point

It has been an 18 month long journey to this point, as we have shared earlier this year (here and here). Regrettably, we have not been able to ensure that the values that we’ve put at the centre of our training have been experienced by our staff – too many of the decisions that we have made did not fully embody our values of equity and justice. This has caused many people, especially staff of colour, disabled staff, and others who experience marginalisation in society, to be hurt. For that we are deeply sorry. 

As an organisation we have worked hard to understand those concerns through formal investigations and informal culture reviews, and found that culture to be pervasive, and the pain staff have felt to be serious. However, there was not a path to addressing those challenges that didn’t continue to exacerbate experiences of hurt and marginalisation, especially within the confines of a charity limited by requirements of how we address issues and use our funding. 

We now find ourselves in a situation with significant trust gaps, dwindling leadership capacity, and an uncertain long-term financial future. With those three challenges, the Board does not see a viable path to transforming from an organisation that does good work externally but is causing hurt and pain internally, to one that fully embodies our core values of justice and equity. 

With no sustainable path forward, we felt it was only right to close the organisation in the kindest way possible, redistribute our remaining funds to organisations better equipped to do this work with equity and justice at the centre, and clear space for new entities to grow that don’t repeat our mistakes. We are committed to telling our story and sharing our learnings. We want to create a lasting impact with our remaining time and resources, so other organisations can benefit from the learning that came from our challenges and closure. 

As a Board of volunteer Trustees, especially those of us who have been involved for the longest, we accept our role in not asking the right questions, creating spaces to hear from all staff, and not having enough relationship with each other to see a pattern of staff unhappiness, so that we might have identified and addressed the challenges we face before they became so pervasive they threatened the organisation’s ability to continue. We tried in all the ways we knew how to right this ship, but in the end it wasn’t enough. We are so sorry that it’s come to this. 

We also believe that choosing to close this legal entity, and with it all its challenges, makes space for a new chapter of this work to emerge. One that is rooted from the start in a deep understanding of justice, and that begins with a strong foundation and grows from there. Making this decision now means that we can look to what’s next, and support that in any way we can.

What next?

We’ll be fulfilling our commitments to finish the training programmes that we’re currently running including our UNPACKED Beginners course, Age Activism training, and will be planning a final Community Conference for early February 2022 where we can invite community members to look back and celebrate what has been achieved over the last ten years, and discuss how, collectively, we might move forward. The team will be sharing more on this soon. 

With climate change urgency, democracy in crisis, division in society and inequality rising, there is still such evidence for the need to equip campaigners, especially those from marginalised backgrounds, with the tools, confidence and community they need to campaign.

As we move to close, we want to work with others in 2022 to ensure the legacy and work of Bootcamp and the contribution of so many will be maintained in some new way.  We are exploring options for us to do this in line with our charitable objectives, and will share more on that in the new year. 

Our thanks

We are proud that we have built a passionate and skilled team of trainers, community builders, programme leaders, communicators, operations and finance experts and fundraisers. We are working hard to ensure that they are given the opportunity to search for new roles while carrying out their closing work, and would encourage anyone who has vacancies to consider hiring any one of our brilliant team members. We are grateful for each of them, and for the way that they have led our work with dedication and passion. 

As we close, we are deeply thankful to our funders who have stood by us, acting as catalysts for such transformational, powerful and impactful work, and especially to those who are supporting us at this critical moment.

But most importantly we are continually thankful for all those within the community who have made Campaign Bootcamp a unique, challenging, caring, radiant and inclusive space for activists and campaigners to work together, exchange learning and celebrate success. We are encouraged, motivated and fiercely proud to see those most affected by injustice equipped and active in leading campaigners towards a more sustainable world and fairer society for all. We know that the impact that our training had will continue to live through those community members, and we’re grateful for all of their work – past, present, and future.

The Campaign Bootcamp Board

Update on 19th January 2022: The Board have now shared answers to the public Q&A form that was posted in this statement. You can find answers to the questions asked here:

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