Transform power, build solidarity, make change.
It’s All About Power
The Power Project calls for a new way of thinking about power, and action to build solidarity in social change.
How might thinking differently about power help build solidarity in social change?
There is no sticking plaster. We need to change how we think as much as what we do. This will look different for each organisation. But it begins with each one of us thinking differently about our own power.
The story so far
So far, the Power Project has hosted a two-year inquiry into power in civil society. Supported by the Cornerstone Fund, the inquiry focused on London – England’s most unequal city – but drew on learning and conversations from around the world.
Some social sector organisations already work in meaningful solidarity with people with first-hand experience. But we heard this is the exception, not the norm. Too often, people feel excluded or unwelcome, and engagement can feel tokenistic – even exploitative. It can perpetuate the very inequalities organisations work to tackle.
People who work in the social sector already talk a lot about power. Yet phrases like ‘empowering people’ or ‘sharing power’ can sound empty unless they’re backed up by better understanding and meaningful action. Talking about power can feel abstract, or uncomfortable. But power is everywhere, and it affects everyone. Unless we take the time to understand it, we’ll keep making the same mistakes.
We can only act intentionally to change what we can see. Power is complex, dynamic and pervasive. The Power Lens tool offers a bird’s eye view of the ‘nested’ systems that make up civil society, and the power that flows through and between each of them.
Just talking about power won’t solve anything. But seeing imbalances of power more clearly, then taking reflective, strategic, power-aware action to shift that balance, just might. The Power Framework is a tool to help inform and plan your strategic action to reshape power in social sector organisations.
Power Project Learning Review
Regrettably, some of the people involved in the Power Project raised concerns about the project with SMK’s Board in February 2023. We agreed to publish a Learning Review. We hope our reflections have value for others seeking to work in deeper solidarity for social change.
Watch SMK CEO Sue Tibballs talk about the Power Project
Power Project blogs
Last year, two people involved in the Power Project raised concerns with the SMK Board about our approach to working with those with first-hand (or ‘lived’) experience. One of them was also an SMK Trustee. The Board investigated their concerns over nine-months....
In this long-read blog, Sarah Thomas, SMK’s Head of Power and Participation, challenges the sector to acknowledge - and invest in - the true cost of taking action to shift power and build greater solidarity in social change. SMK’s Power Project was a two-year...
It’s been a long and complex journey, but the findings from the Power Project are clear. Social sector organisations must think differently about power to build solidarity for social change. Saul Alinsky, organiser and activist, suggested that for a revolution to be...
We welcome anyone interested in exploring power and acting to build solidarity in social change
Helping you think differently about power.
Download resources from the guide, and find out what our community is reading, listening and watching to help build solidarity in social change