History & Track Record

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We have a history of amazing campaigns that bring real specific changes. These campaigns are radical, whilst still achieving realistic goals. We have professional legitimate edge built by our supporters network and have 18 years worth of experience and networking.

 

                                            

                                                             

 

Our aims are twofold: discussing and addressing a critique of the current system, while asking for specific changes NOW. We say the changes we have brought to date are not the end of the matter; we want to ‘demand more change’ but its start. We aim to be integrated and holistic in our critique of the current situation and our work for something better.

Our aims are twofold: discussing and addressing a critique of the current system, while asking for specific changes. We say the changes we have brought to date are not the end of the matter: we want to ‘demand more change’. We aim to be integrated and holistic in our critique of the current situation and our work for something better. 

SPEAK has had an amazing history since it was founded in 1998. We have been hosting our own gatherings since 2000, had a presence at major Christian events such as Soul Survivor, Spring Harvest and Greenbelt since 1999 and have had a campaign presence at major music festivals since 2002. Over the years, the numbers of SPEAK groups have fluctuated between 35 and 60 and over a 100 people have acted as links to churches. Between 50-175 people pass through our gatherings and training events each year, meaning that we have had thousands people passing through SPEAK events since 1998. This means that when we do a parliamentary lobby, over 35 MPs can turn up. But we are often also radical in what we ask for. SPEAK has also been on the forefront of creative campaigns. For example, the Big Dress campaign, where we had a tent made of squares of petition about injustice in the garment industry. This, with art installations and performances, led us to advocate for accountability for TNCs (Transnational Companies) and working conditions in FTZs (Free Trade Zones).

This is a unique position: a unique standpoint in which to contribute to the future of the campaigns in the UK and international forums. SPEAK's future plans, together with NEST (which works broader than Christian circles) are to build skill share hubs in communities in the UK and to partner with other international SPEAK networks and partners to interconnect the network together for more impact in the future. There is an organisation that support the Network Called the SPEAK Network Event Support Team (SPEAK NEST). This is the organisation side, along with wider participatory structures and working groups. So, the grassroots and official organization structures work together- SPEAK being relatively unique in opting for this model.

Below is a beginning of an attempt at how we arrived at where we are. This doesn’t do the story justice, so we are working on collating stories and accounts to be collated and a photo book we are hoping to give to our supporters to say thank you. Any support with this is massively appreciated.

SPEAK: OUR HISTORY

These pages are collated to celebrate the history, strength and achievements of the SPEAK Network over the past 18 years. This looks at the many ways SPEAK has grown and evolved as an organisation and to celebrate its many campaign successes and influences.

 

In the Beginning…

The SPEAK Network was founded in 1998, by a 20 year old Development Studies student called Louise at UEA Norwich. SPEAK began as a small network of students and young adults who regularly prayed and campaigned on issues of global injustice. We started meeting in 1998. 

 

The early team included Louise Donkin, Ben Gillchrist, and Jen Mance (all 3 who were on the first core team) and Ellen Baldwin, who joined the Core team the second year and also started working with the SPEAK Network support team in 2000. Another key person included Joanne Frew who started as an intern in 2001 and stayed for 10 years until 2011 in the Network Support Team. There are more photos of the early team in the section below. From this small band of committed individuals actively praying and campaigning - and whose first offices were in a small disused toilet!! The past 18 years have seen The SPEAK Network grow impressively to around the 3000 members receiving regular SPEAK mailings, 19 Regional SPEAK groups, and several International SPEAK Groups in Kenya, Nigeria, Hong Kong and Brazil! SPEAK currently has its offices alongside many other charities at St Margaret’s House in Bethnal Green.

 

 

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it's the only thing that ever has”

~ Margaret Mead

Alongside the many Campaign victories SPEAK has achieved (see below), Speak has grown and evolved vastly as a Community of Campaigners over the past 18 years and now offers its members, the following opportunities to get involved in Campaign work, empowering young and old alike to make a difference! See below for some of the great work SPEAK has and is achieving year on year, and what some prominent figures have to say about SPEAK:

 

"I think the genius, and the creativity of the activism, that SPEAK constantly creates is wonderful"

~ Steve Chalke (Founder of Oasis Trust)

 

 

“I want to speak on behalf of SPEAK, this is an organisation that has been around for quite a while and it’s unique as an Activist group that is working for Social Justice and trying to restructure the institutions of Society, the Banking system, the way in which the Government functions, the way in which the Stock Market functions, and they are concerned about issues such as the Environment. Most of all they are committed to eliminating Poverty.

The reason I have been attracted to SPEAK over the years is that they combine their activism with a deep commitment to Spirituality. They are into great spiritual leaders in history such as St Francis and St John of the Cross. They are very much into seeing the power of prayer incorporated into their vocal efforts to change the social order. SPEAK is an organisation that is spiritually trying to connect with people as Jesus did"

 – Tony Campolo (Founder of EAPE and Red Letter Christians)

 "I am very grateful for those who have courageously drawn attention to the scandal of this situation, and to the wider question of the way governments support and subsidise the arms trade."

 – Former Archbishop Rowan Williams statement on SPEAK’s Campaign to stop the Arms Trade and Arm’s Fair in London.

 

 

Anita Roddick – Founder of The Body Shop, who contributed this patchwork square to SPEAK’s Big Dress Campaign in 2005 -

"The fine folks of SPEAK are some of my favorite holy troublemakers. They are gentle prophets. Their joy is contagious and disarming. Their imagination provokes us, stirs us, invites us to refuse to settle for the world as it is now, and to dream of the world as it could be. SPEAK's revolution exposes injustice and interrupts death... but their revolution also knows how to dance, and laugh -- and therein lies its power. They are not just protesting -- they are protestifying... they don't just tell you what's wrong with the world, they invite you to imagine how it could be made right again. So if you haven't already jumped on SPEAK's freedom train... jump on. Plot goodness with them. Dive into their holy mischief. Join them as they join God in storming the gates of hell and bringing heaven down to earth."

Shane Claiborne author and activist
www.thesimpleway.org
Facebook: @ShaneClaiborne

                                                                             

Empowerment

SPEAK is all about Empowerment. It exists to support and empower our mainly young network members to achieve the confidence in campaigning and being part of the change they wish to see in the world. SPEAK is about Grassroots engagement, working through a Network of SPEAK groups nationwide and internationally, who in turn reach their own communities with Campaign messages.

SPEAK’s ministry has 2 main positive effects:

It transforms the people who come into contact and get involved with the movement. Some people are starting to refer to SPEAK as their main Christian community, so SPEAK groups and Gatherings can also have a pastoral, spiritual development and cohesive community role, as well as the campaign side.
It also has a positive bearing globally on those who are suffering the effects of injustice. Our campaigns aim to make a Significant difference for the poor and vulnerable in all areas of the world, whether that be via policy change, materially or both – For some fantastic examples of this please see our campaign successes!

Faith and Spirituality

SPEAK began as a group of young students meeting, praying and acting on Social Justice issues, and SPEAK continues to stay true to its roots by incorporating prayer and theology into all of its Campaigns, and looking to God for support and guidance. There are many times when SPEAK members can testify to God performing small miracles - especially during campaigns!

Whilst SPEAK is openly a Christian organisation, it is fully welcoming to everyone from a variety of different Christian backgrounds, those from other faith backgrounds, and those who do not ascribe to having a Faith.

SPEAK Groups

Central to the SPEAK Network are the many different Regional SPEAK Groups that meet across the UK to pray and take action on Campaigns. From a small band of students in Norwich, the SPEAK Network has now grown to 19 SPEAK Groups nationwide, with around 6 people involved in each group. SPEAK also has International SPEAK Groups in Hong Kong, Kenya, Nigeria and Brazil.                                                                              

                                                                     

                                                                                 

SPEAK groups exist to encourage each other in our faith/spirituality and spur each other on in taking action for justice. They aim to be an expression of community in the campaign scene and seek to share their faith in a God who passionately cares about justice and vulnerable people. SPEAK groups actively organise their own campaigns and do their own outreach sessions, with support from the SPEAK Network Team when required. They are an expression of diversity, campaigning in ways they feel are appropriate for their locality, but come together to meet with other groups at Annual Gatherings such as Soundcheck and Vocal Training.

It is difficult to quantify the total sphere of influence that each individual group has. However we estimate that each group on average reaches about 100 people per year with its Campaign work. This means that the total sphere of influence through SPEAK groups totals around 1900 people per year in the UK alone.

Campaigns

SPEAK Campaigns always strive to contain certain themes:

  • We aim to have a focal justice issue in which we push for a specific policy change.
  • We always strive to have our faith firmly rooted in the message and our responses to the campaigning issues.
  • We aim for our campaigns to also have a level of advocacy and awareness-raising.

It is difficult to quantify the level of reach that we have had through our campaigns but we would estimate that it has been: Around 300 people per year through SPEAK Campaign ‘Days of Action’, 5630 people receiving ‘Pray and Post Cards’ through link people and 3000 as individuals.

Pray and Post

For the past 18 years since September 1998 The SPEAK Network have regularly produced “Pray and Post Campaigns” between 3-5 times per year. There have been around 60 campaigns led and produced by the SPEAK Network about various issues relating to Global Justice- from Climate Change and Food Security, to the Arms Trade, Trade Justice and Debt Alleviation, to Anti Modern-Slavery campaigns. Around 3000 individuals and a network of people are regularly receiving ‘Pray and Post Cards’. Through Pray and Post alongside other Campaign actions SPEAK have had some fantastic campaign successes. Over the years the SPEAK Network has delivered around 150,000 prayer/petition campaign leaflets.

Volumize

As well as Pray and Post, the SPEAK Network have produce Volumize- a campaigns magazine sent out to network members 3 times a year, to help inform members on social justice issues, give news of the various SPEAK Network Groups, and information on upcoming events. Our electronic mailing goes out to 3000 people. These are then rolled out to 5630 people in total. Many of these people are members of Churches or ‘Small Groups’ where they will reflect and pray on the issues raised in the mailings.

Partnering with other mainstream Charities and Organisations: SPEAK’s Campaign work has led it to work in close partnership with many other major organisations, such as Christian Aid, Oxfam and Traidcraft, and has been recognised by other charities as being an interconnected and valuable partner in Campaigns. For example, SPEAK was campaigning alongside other ‘Anti-War’ Groups in Parliament Square against the invasion of Iraq.

Annual SPEAK Network Gatherings

Since 2000, SPEAK have arranged, organised and hosted several SPEAK Gatherings each year, bringing the SPEAK Network together for training and information on Campaigns, empowering members to reach their local communities, and encouraging the Arts and creativity to flourish as part of SPEAK Campaigns. Around 175-350 different people attend the main gatherings (Soundcheck, Vocal Training, Flower Model Gatherings) in total throughout the year. In addition, around another 50 people attend other smaller events run by the SPEAK Network each year.

                                                                           

Soundcheck - Since the year 2000, SPEAK has been running an annual gathering called ‘Soundcheck’. It has an average attendance of between 175- 250 people (over the past 3 years), and up to 400 people when SPEAK have been able to organise transport for students. Soundcheck exists every Feb to bring the Network together to be informed on particular issues, hear talks from famous speakers, and to meet others with a similar passion for social justice issues.

Flower Model Gatherings – Since 2002…. Flower Model Gatherings have created a participatory forum with dedicated bi-annual meetings, where SPEAK members could explore their gifts and how they could participate within the Network, and help shape SPEAK’s future. We still attempt to gather SPEAK working groups every 6 months, though we act as gardeners and have seasons of pruning back and seasons of blossoming.

Vocal Training

Since 2002, SPEAK's Vocal Training annual training weekend in September, is where we strive to equip and empower the next generation of change makers to bring about global justice. An average of 50 people attend Vocal Training to be trained to become leaders in their local areas on Social justice issues. Over the years we have put on 13 vocal trainings.

Speak – On Tour!

The past 18 years have also seen the SPEAK Network produce several large scale tours of our very own campaign installations and accompanying Edu-tainment such as ‘The Big Dress’, which toured London, Oxford, Leeds, Cambridge and Sheffield - The world’s biggest dress which serves as a Walk in Petition Marquee tent made up of over 3000 petition squares. It helped campaign for social justice in the Garment Industry.

Festivals

Each year SPEAK attends Soul Survivor B, Soul Survivor C, Momentum and Greenbelt.

At these events, we manage to reach around 200 people per festival with SPEAK Campaign information, and we’ve observed that we have a quality interaction with around 40 people per festival, leading to further contact with these individuals.

                                                                                              

Overall, SPEAK attending festivals can reach a further 800 people a year, with information about the organisation and its campaigns, and has a quality interaction with 160 people per year, usually leading to further contact in some way.

At some festivals, we are given the opportunity to run a festival ‘session’, for example, in 2013 at Greenbelt, SPEAK led a ‘Student Activist Academy’. Running a session such as this will give us an audience of a further 100 people.

                                                                                               

We often also do extra events on top of the four mentioned above- these events change each year. For example, in 2013 we attended the “IF Campaign Event” in Hyde Park, running a stall and creative area. For these larger Campaign events, we usually interact with 200 people per year.

In total SPEAK reaches around 1100 different people through stalls and presence at Festivals and major Campaign events.

Music SPEAKs

Music SPEAKs is SPEAK’s own music initiative, launched in 2009. It brings together artists from SPEAK and others connected to the Network to promote campaigns and use their art forms as a way to communicate issues of justice. It has given us a platform to promote some of the amazing talents of individuals in the Network, as well as an interface with other audiences, such as the festival scene, conscious party scene and gig venues. It has been a brilliant way to connect to this wider group with our values and campaigns.

SPEAK Links

There are presently 119 ‘SPEAK Links’. These are individuals who are more involved with the Network and who can feedback to their SPEAK group or community about various Campaigns and events. Through their very nature, SPEAK Links influence and activate other individuals. If you would like to be a SPEAK Link for your area, please do get in touch!

Fundraising events

SPEAK fundraising events always try to have the following aims:

  • We aim to have a fun and understandable fundraising feat or event
  • We also always strive to have our faith firmly rooted in the message of the fundraising activity.
  • We aim for our fundraising to also have a level of advocacy and awareness-raising.

                                                                                                  

A good example of where these three threads are brought together can be seen in the Bardic Bike tour in 2013. The whole activity was faith focused, and used to promote the action of cycling as well as ends in an action for justice at the finish destination.

Around 25 people do a sponsored activity per year for SPEAK. On average, these people will influence 10 other people with their fundraising feats, which totals a reach of 250 people.

SPEAK in the Media

Due to SPEAK’s dynamic voice for justice and its ability to communicate freely, we have been given many opportunities to speak out about our campaigns in the media. This has involved television opportunities and a range of different magazine, newspaper and website articles. It is difficult to quantify the level of reach that we have had through our campaigns in the media, but we would estimate that it has been around 300 people per year.

Social Media and Website

SPEAK regularly informs people of its Campaigns and events via Social Media, as well as its own website. Our main platforms are our Facebook and Twitter profiles and the website, which is updated regularly and features a blog. SPEAK is also in the process of developing a system where we can text the Network with Campaign and Event information.

  • SPEAK has around 1000 followers on Twitter
  • SPEAK has over 1000 followers on Facebook

Alternative University

In 2015, SPEAK started developing its own Education platform, to further help train and equip its Network members on Campaigns and being a peaceful Social Justice Activist in their community. The Alternative University will involve Webinars, Meetings, and Youtube Videos on Social Justice topics and Campaigning. It will involve more senior Network members sharing their experiences, as well as well known Christian speakers such as Ruth Valerio.

                                                                                               

SPEAK aims to further its Network training by:

  • Workshops at Gatherings, Training events and Festivals.
  • Talks on request to churches and conferences on justice issues and/ or theology.
  • On-site training to SPEAK groups which we aim to deliver every two years by designated regional speaker.
  • Webinars- online Skype webinars on a variety of training topics
  • SPEAK Internships, which involve direct training and mentoring to young people in specific areas.
  • Dedicated on line courses for SPEAK staff and NEST volunteers, including online reading materials, online video materials, online essays and exercises, mentoring and tuition by a support worker

For more information please see: https://www.speak.org.uk/resources/alternative-university

SPEAK CAMPAIGN SUCCESSES

The SPEAK Network exists to campaign on issues of Social Justice, and the last 18 years have seen the SPEAK Network’s integral role in several Campaigns, that have achieved significant victories! Read on for some exciting examples of what SPEAK have helped to achieve over the years:

Jubilee 2000 and Make Poverty History 2005

Many SPEAK members took part in Jubilee 2000 and Make Poverty History Marches in 2005 in London and Edinburgh, alongside a coalition of many other charities such as Oxfam and Christian Aid. SPEAK members also kept up the pressure on politicians with dedicated Pray and Postcard Campaigns to alleviate debt in the majority world.

Tony Campolo is an honorary president of SPEAK, and Tony managed to get one of our SPEAK Pray and Postcards to Bill Clinton whilst he was the US President, and speak to him about Debt reduction. The conversation Tony Campolo had with Bill Clinton led to President Clinton beginning to advocate for cancellation of debt in International forums! – An example of SPEAK campaigning achieving amazing outcomes in changing the hearts and minds of some of the most influential people on the planet!!

RESULT: The fantastic result of this Campaign work resulted in $100 billion of poor countries’ debt being cancelled over the last 10 years through the Jubilee 2000 and Make Poverty History Campaigns. SPEAK’s role in the coalition was acknowledged by Jubilee 2000 and Make Poverty History coalition founder member Christian Aid.

1999 - Arms Trade – Indonesia and East Timor

In 1999 the SPEAK Network Pray and Postcard Campaigned for an Arms Embargo on Indonesia for the safety of East Timorese people.

East Timor was being terrorised by the Indonesian army, who were using machinery and war planes, made and subsidised by the UK Government. SPEAK campaigned for the Government to place an Arms Embargo on Indonesia to halt these human rights abuses being made, especially with arms produced by the UK!

RESULT: In 1999, this resulted in Securing an Arms Embargo on Indonesia for the safety of East Timorese people.

2001 - Access to AIDS medication in South Africa

In 2001, SPEAK Members in partnership with OXFAM began a dedicated Pray and Postcard Campaign focusing on access to AIDS medications in South Africa, particularly campaigning to the Drugs Giant Glaxo-SmithKline.

The medicine was too expensive for the majority of the population, yet it had the power to save THOUSANDS of lives. SPEAK Members held a prayer vigil with letters on their backs spelling out the words “MAKE TRADE FAIR”, kneeling in prayer outside the Foreign Office.

A Rally was also held in a nearby church and Glaxo-SmithKline responded and sent a representative from the company to address our Pray and Posts concerns on medicines patents. Caroline Spellman MP for Bishops Stortford also attended and spoke at the lobby.

RESULT: In 2001 this campaign successfully stopped GlaxoSmithKline taking the South African Government to Court, over the use of other alternative AIDS drugs!! Helping secure more affordable medicines for patients with AIDS. On top of this, SPEAK also managed to campaign for a change to trade rules on unfair patenting as well.

2005/6 - Trade Justice and Multinational Corporation Transparency 

2006 saw SPEAK Network members campaign for the Company’s Act which saw the biggest change in company law for 150 years! Bringing greater transparency and accountability to UK multinational companies.

RESULT: In 2006 The UK became the first country to include clause for the Environment and Human Rights. Further to the Company’s Act, from October 2007 Directors of companies are now be required to "have regard to" employee, community, environment and business relationships (with suppliers & customers), as well as having a reputation for high standards of business conduct, as they make decisions to benefit shareholders”. Effectively this meant large UK companies with publicly quoted shares would have to report on Employee, Community, and Contractual relationships and Environment issues as part of their annual business reviews.

2007 - Arms Trade – UK Government

In 2003, SPEAK first launched an Arms Trade campaign, which enabled us to expose the UK Government’s funding of private arms deals which fuel conflict, aid oppression and harm’s development. Between 2003 and 2007, SPEAK actively campaigned for the closure of the Governments Defence Exports Services Organisation (known as DESO) a Government department which existed to promote UK Arms exports. In 2004 we held a big Day of Action. Over 400 people prayed outside and lobbied DESO:

RESULT: 2007 saw the closure of DESO (Defence Exports Services Organisation)!

                                                                                             

SPEAK’s campaigning role in this closure was acknowledged publicly, by the Campaign Against the Arms Trade (known as CAAT) and documented on Wikipedia.

                                                                                            

Over 200 MPs were in support of SPEAK’s EARLY DAY MOTION, with the support of Stephen Timms MP, pictured above. The campaign post card prompted support from MPs, with 679 voting for closure of DESO and 686 voting for closure in Early Day Motions.

2008/9 – Action on Climate Change

In 2008 and 2009 SPEAK members successfully campaigned, via Pray and Postcard campaigns, and taking part in the Climate Change Rally in London, as part of The Climate Coalition, for the introduction of the UK Climate Change Act.

RESULT: The UK Climate Change Act 2008 was the first ever legally binding commitment to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 80% by 2050 (from 1990 levels) and move to a low-carbon economy.

2009/12 – Trade Justice – Groceries Code Adjudicator

SPEAK’s “Squeezed” Campaign called for justice in our food supply chains by asking Parliament for a Groceries Code Adjudicator, which has the power to fine from day one. What this would basically do is force our powerful UK supermarkets to treat their suppliers fairly - applying to both farmers here and abroad.

RESULT: SPEAK campaigned alongside Traidcraft, Action Aid, the Fairtrade Foundation and Friends of the Earth for the introduction of the Groceries Code Adjudicator (GCA), also called the 'supermarket ombudsman'. The GCA ensured improved corporate accountability by regulating supermarket's behaviour with their suppliers, and guaranteed that the 2010 Code of Practice is properly adhered to. The Groceries Code Adjudicator was mentioned in a Bill by Baroness Wilcox and was announced in the Queen's Speech that year. Furthermore, in 2012, Tesco were the first Supermarket to be investigated for breaches to the code. Currently, DEFRA is campaigning for the Groceries Code Adjudicator to be able to extend its powers to Dairy Farmers in the UK to ensure they are properly paid for the milk they supply… a potential future Campaign for SPEAK!

2012 – Nigeria and the Shell Oil Company

Since 2012, SPEAK UK worked closely with SPEAK Nigeria, giving support to a legal case against the exploitative practices both on a human and environmental level, of the multinational Oil Company Shell. SPEAK held a Vigil outside the Shell Oil Company London Headquarters.

RESULT: The Shell Oil giant has now compensated families impacted by their practices in the Region!

2013 – The Enough Food for Everyone IF Campaign

SPEAK played a big part in 2013's “Enough Food for Everyone IF campaign”. The national IF campaign urged politicians to stamp out tax dodging, to help free up money that could be used to build schools and hospitals in developing countries.

                                                                                            

SPEAK called on MPs and G8 leaders to reform tax laws. SPEAK was one of 208 members of the coalition and held a stall at the Big IF event in Hyde Park in June 2013 and produced the video for the Big IF Fast. SPEAK joined 55,000 people who rallied in London and Belfast. SPEAK members joined in the Pray and Postcard campaign on this issue and SPEAK members met their MPs to encourage them to speak up on this issue.

RESULT: The UK became the first G8 country to keep a 43-year promise to spend 0.7% of national income on aid to the world's poorest people! David Cameron also announced that all UK-affiliated 'tax havens' will now have to share financial information, so that Companies in G8 countries will now be open to scrutiny by tax authorities.

2013 - Arms Trade Campaign – Against the Arms Fair London

In September 2013 SPEAK members joined others to peacefully protest outside the large Arms Fair which happens every year in East London, and sells arms to countries all over the World including those with questionable Human Rights records.

This drew the attention of the National Media highlighting this issue to the General Public, and also the Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams who lent his support to SPEAK Campaigners, and said the following:

“I am very grateful for those who have courageously drawn attention to the scandal of this situation, and to the wider question of the way governments support and subsidise the arms trade."

                                                                                            

"Outrage about one kind of horrific and illegal weaponry will not be taken seriously unless it is part of a comprehensive willingness to tackle all forms of collusion with technologically advanced violence against human beings."

"The world's conscience is rightly shocked by the use of chemical weapons in Syria; but we need to remember that there are many other illegal forms of weaponry – and the international arms trade continues to turn a blind eye to the promotion and sale of many of these (cluster munitions, for example)" ~ Rowan Williams (Former Archbishop of Canterbury).

2013 – How the Banking System treats Charities

In June 2012, Halifax merged with Lloyds TSB and the Royal Bank of Scotland. During this union, it was announced that they had decided to close a number of bank accounts.

Unfortunately for Speak, one of the bank accounts undergoing closure contained one third of our standing orders from regular givers. SPEAK were told that we would not be able to transfer these standing orders to a new account and that SPEAK’s bank account would be shut immediately. To make matters worse we were told that we had no option to challenge the decision. By closing this account, we would lose all the future funding which these regular donations would provide.

In the space of a few days, 10 years of SPEAK’s efforts to become financially sustainable would be considerably reduced after only gaining ground slowly over a long period of time. We felt like the decision was desperately unfair and caused us real considerable stress. We began a long effort to keep the bank account open and to save the funds that we’d worked so hard to secure. We called, we emailed, we met with the bank staff - all the time asking that our standing orders be transferred to a new account with the Co-Operative Bank.

                                                                                            

When efforts to change our situations through direct contact with the banks failed to bring justice to our situation, we decided to contact a number of MPs, treasury groups and people of influence to start a lobbying campaign against the banks. We also started a campaign called ‘New Leaves’ to raise awareness of the lack of transparency and accountability within the internal system.

And then, miraculously, we made contact with the Charity Finance Group, an extremely helpful finance advisory body, who told us about the rather cryptic-sounding ‘SOFA’ – this stands for a ‘Standing Order File Amendment’, which would allow us to transfer standing orders between bank accounts – in other words, it was the answer we’d been waiting for!

RESULT: Initially the bank refused to acknowledge the SOFA…. However, eventually, after much pressure from our part, the bank admitted that we were eligible for a sofa and had been from the very start. This meant VICTORY! We could keep our bank account open for 13 months and transfer all of the standing orders across via the sofa: a third of our standing orders had been saved!

The Campaign was successful with the Banks now offering a Standing Order File Amendment, helping both The SPEAK Network and many other Charities and organisations in the process.