3.2 Campaigning coalitions

A second way in which smaller voluntary organisations exert influence is by collaborating in coalitions to amplify their voice. This model for ‘speaking truth to power’ has a long history in the UK. Think of the 19th century anti-slavery movement in Britain. Although we remember the name of William Wilberforce, we forget that the anti-slavery movement took the form of a network of activists and campaigning groups. A contemporary example of the coalition model is seen in the work of Citizens UK and London Citizens. These are alliances of citizens, voluntary and community organisations, faith groups and schools, which have together generated a public discourse (and political response) around the issue of a ‘living wage’.

Activity 2 A citizen coalition

Timing: (15 minutes)

Go to the website of the Living Wage Foundation [Tip: hold Ctrl and click a link to open it in a new tab. (Hide tip)] and read their account of the history of the living wage movement through the work of London Citizens and Citizens UK.

Reflect on the following questions in your learning journal:

  • how were citizen groups able to influence large organisations and institutions to adopt the living wage?
  • what do you think this might mean for the leaders of each organisation within the coalitions?

Make sure you title the post with the week number and the number of this activity, Week 7 Activity 2.


In an article for the Guardian (24 March 2010), Neil Jameson, Executive Director of Citizens UK, pointed to the significance of a shared model of leadership for coalitions like London Citizens – leadership constituted by leaders from across the coalition’s collaborating organisations. This is a model of leadership that moves away from any tendency to highlight the voice of individuals and instead presents leadership as distributed between organisations and individuals.

Described image
Figure 2 Coalition.

3.1 Changing the story

4 Collaboration and shared power