People Power Conference

A campaigners conference

People Power is a unique and high-level annual campaigning conference, organised by SMK in partnership with the Good Agency.

It brings together grassroots campaigners, heads of major campaigning charities, and leading thinkers from the Government, media and corporate sector to debate current and emerging issues for campaigners.

Previous conferences

People Power 2014 took place on Wednesday 30th April 2014. The day was made up of stimulating debate, workshops and talks – all designed to help make campaigning and activism more effective. Speakers included Shami Chakrabarti, Peter Tatchell, Betty Makoni and many more.

People Power was back by popular demand on Wednesday 24th April 2013 to help charities, not-for-profit organisations and individuals across the United Kingdom campaign more effectively.

Clive Stafford Smith, Founder and Director of Reprieve, opened the day with humour and provocation, challenging participants to remember that they have power, are quicker, more nimble and efficient that the bureaucracies they are often trying to influence, and that ‘perfectionism is the enemy of action’: “The only way you can lose is by not doing.” – Clive Stafford Smith.


Margaret Aspinall, figurehead of the longstanding Hillsborough Justice campaign, closed the day with a powerful – and empowering – speech about her on-going fight for justice, and the amazing achievements made by the Hillsborough Family Support Group against the odds. “Never, ever give up. Keep knocking. Someone eventually will open that door.” – Margaret Aspinall.

People Power 2012 took place on Tuesday 6th March. We were delighted that Salil Shetty, Secretary General of Amnesty International delivered the Keynote Address and Dame Vivienne Westwood gave a closing inspirational speech.

Other speakers included: John Sauven, Executive Director, Greenpeace UK; John Stewart, Chair of HACAN ClearSkies; Emma-Jane Cross, Chief Executive of BeatBullying; Kirsty McNeill, Director of Strategy, Office of Gordon and Sarah Brown; Adrian Lovett, European Director, ONE; Matthew Smerdon, Deputy Director, Baring Foundation; Maurice Frankel, Director, Campaign for Freedom of Information; JulieeteJowit, Senior Writer, The Guardian and Observer; Glen Tarman, Head of Advocacy, BOND; Deborah Doane, Director, World Development Movement.

People Power 2011 took place on Tuesday 22nd March 2011 in London.

Speakers included:

  • Keynote Address: David Lammy MP
  • Balloon debate, chaired by Tony Juniper, environmental campaigner. Panelists included Jo Fox, BSkyB; Caroline Fiennes, Global Cool Foundation; Polly Higgins, environmental lawyer, This is Ecocide; and climate change activist Dan Glass, So We Stand/Plane Stupid Scotland.
  • Breakout sessions included:
  • Ellie Mae O’Hagan, UK Uncut
  • Stephen Pittam, Trust Secretary, Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust & Martin O’Brien, Director of Reconciliation and Human Rights, The Atlantic Philanthropies
  • Susan Nash, Vice President (Society and Citizenship), NUS
  • Quintin Oliver, Director, Stratagem
  • Abi and Emma Moore, founders, PinkStinks
  • Samantha Heath, Chief Executive, London Sustainability Exchange
  • Question Time session, chaired by Campbell Robb, Chief Executive of Shelter. Panellists included Lord Herman Ouseley, founder of the ‘Kick It Out’ campaign; Andrew Butler, Campaigns Manager, Lush Cosmetics; Louise Hanson, Head of Advocacy, Which? and Andreas Whittam-Smith, First Church Estates Commissioner and Vice President of Gingerbread.

SMK assembled a report that summaries the intelligent debate and ideas explored on the day. The report covers all sessions from the day, which were:

  • Opening remarks: ‘Freedom Pass’ – Lyndall Stein, Chair, SMK
  • Keynote speech: ‘Campaigners in the new decade – are we the new champions of democracy and change?’ – Kumi Naidoo, Executive Director, Greenpeace International
  • Question Time: ‘How will Government engage with campaigners in the new decade?’
  • Conversation 1: ‘What will charity campaigning look like in the next ten years?’
  • Conversation 2: ‘How will the media (and the public) perceive activists in the coming years?
  • Question Time: ‘What is the future of public protest?’

Speakers included:

  • Dame Suzi Leather, Chair of the Charity Commission
  • Sir Hugh Orde, president of the Association of Chief Police Officers
  • Tony Benn
  • Matthew Elliott, Chief Executive of the TaxPayers’ Alliance
  • Nick Hardwick, Chair of the Independent Police Complaints Commission
  • ShamiChakrabarti, Director of Liberty
KarenPeople Power Conference