Learn from experienced changemakers

Our Masterclasses offer campaigners and change-makers the opportunity to take a deep dive into some of the key challenges in making social change happen. The Series invites experienced campaigners, researchers and commentators to share their high quality advice, knowledge and expertise. These workshops provide detailed technical information and insights on strategies and tactics, providing campaigners and change-makers with:

  • Practical information and advice about effective campaigning tools and tactics.
  • Ideas and advice on how to overcome specific campaign challenges.
  • A space for discussion and shared learning.
  • A peer network of campaigners working on similar issues.


Masterclass current

This is a hands-on workshop for anyone looking to work on their influencing skills, presence and charisma, whether your focus is on building strong relationships in one-to-one meetings or expressing campaign messages succinctly in front of an audience. We all have natural presence, sometimes we just don’t know how to amplify it or our nerves stop us from accessing it. Viv Groskop draws on her experience as a comedian and BBC Radio 4 presenter for this masterclass on achieving a compelling connection in any context, anxiety-free.

Viv is a sought-after workshop leader and facilitator known for bringing sensitive, individualised feedback and humour into training in the corporate and charity sectors. She specialises in presence, public speaking, assertiveness, influencing skills and leadership development. With a background in stand-up comedy, she has a particular interest in authenticity and impact and in helping others to develop a powerful and individual voice. Viv is a regular on BBC Radio 4’s Saturday Review and Front Row and has appeared on Newsnight and Any Questions. She is the author of the forthcoming book on excellence in public speaking, How to Own the Room (Transworld, out November 2018).


This three-hour masterclass gave participants a grounding in how to get the most from meetings. Whether it’s a one on one with a minister, a reception or a public event, the workshop explored all the basics of how to prepare for a meeting, how to take part successfully and how to follow up.

Participants learnt how to approach each meeting with the right amount of preparation, understand how to behave in meetings to achieve the maximum desired effect, and understand how to build ongoing relationships from meetings.

The workshop also explored formulating an ‘elevator’ pitch and where, how and when to make useful interventions at other people’s events. Finally, participants learnt how to cope with disagreement in meetings both emotionally and intellectually and how to develop further relationships with those who oppose them. This Masteclass was lead by Emma Burnell, who worked in political communications for think tanks and pressure groups for fifteen years. She is now a freelance journalist and communications consultant.

This special extended workshop explored Communications for Change with the renowned Frameworks Institute headquartered in the US. Nicky Hawkins, the new UK Communications Strategist for the Institute, shared her insights into how effective framing can change the way the UK public thinks about the most important issues of our time.

Nicky shared insights from FrameWorks’ research into how people understand a range of issues including poverty, homelessness, children and our economy. She was joined by Neel Parti from the NSPCC who shared their work to re-frame child maltreatment. Participants at this workshop gained an invaluable insight into how this ground-breaking methodology can drive a different approach to communications to achieve lasting change.

In this challenging external climate for campaigning, how can you work effectively as a change maker and ensure your senior management team and governance team are on board and act as a source of support? You have an amazing campaign, user led, strategic, well thought through, clear targets and innovative to boot - then some internal questions put the brakes on. This workshop explored some real-life examples of how such concern was handled to build internal support for campaigning.

Attendees heard from campaigns consultant, Jonathan Ellis, reflect on his attempts to build such support and suggest some key principles, as well as Anna Bird, Executive Director of Policy and Research at Scope, who shared lessons from Scope’s strategic transformation, which involved stopping delivering statutory services in order to focus all the organisation’s resources on social change.

This seminar was presented by two organisations who have put the law to use different ways. The Public Law Project want to make justice effective and accessible. They shared their work on using the law to get what you want from commissioning and their experience of challenging unfair systems through the courts.

UNISON shared insights on their ground-breaking use of strategic litigation and how they ended up going to the supreme court with their case to ensure people would not have to pay fees in employment tribunals.

This Masterclass pulled together leading experts in the field of digital campaigning to talk through the latest digital tools for change and the latest thinking and trends.

The workshop featured Lightful, an amazing new platform that helps charities transform how they do digital, by helping them to be more effective in digital marketing and fundraising. For learning from best practice, Outlandish and their award winning School Cuts Campaign spoke about their creation of an interactive data tool and how it unleashed the potential of digital campaigning and made a real difference.

This masterclass focused on using campaigning to change people’s behaviours and attitudes. Helen Halls and Jo Bullock from RoSPA (the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents) who - for almost 100 years - have been quietly working behind the scenes to change both legislation and attitudes surrounding accidents. From the compulsory wearing of seatbelts and the campaign to stop drink driving, to the Cycling Proficiency Test and to the more recent ban on handheld mobile phones behind the wheel, RoSPA has been instrumental in shaping our society for the better, preventing millions of deaths and serious injuries along the way.

The workshop also featured Claire Everett and Lizz Brocklesby from Rethink mental illness - a partner in Time to Change, which was one of the first projects in England that aimed to change behaviour, rather than just attitudes; and Professor Peter John, Professor of Political Science and Public Policy at University College London, who is using experiments to study civic participation in public policy.

More training

1-Day Workshop

We run half-day and one-day introductory level campaign workshops throughout the UK to equip people with the skills to bring about change at a local or national level.

5-Day Workshop

Our flagship five-day training programme for campaigners and change-makers looking to take their skills to the next level. The course touches on the basics of planning and delivering a campaign and then builds on this to look at best and next practice in campaigning and social change.

Commissioned Consultancy

We offer a wide range of consultancy support in all aspects of planning, delivering and evaluating campaigns. Our services are delivered by SMK staff and our network of over thirty SMK Associates, all of whom are themselves highly experienced and knowledgeable campaigners.