Exploring Class - a training for trainers




Do you want to support your own or other organisations working for social change to deal more skillfully with social class and classism in the organisation, in individual’s lives and in the wider society? Do you want to strengthen your workshop facilitation skills and apply them to class issues?

If so, Exploring Class may be for you.

This intensive, three-day Training of Trainers draws on several decades of work in the US and will adapt US tools to the UK class system. This residential draws in particular from the experience of Class Action, a US organisation that conducts workshops for schools, NGOs, religious organisations, social change organisations, and grant-making foundations. In these workshops, participants share class life stories, identify organisational classism and make action plans for class inclusion and class/race justice.

We believe that rather than telling people what to do, a trainer or facilitator should create designs which empower participants to see for themselves what to do next. Even when it's necessary to present information, our experience shows it can be done in a way that empowers and connects to the lives of participants.

Our lead trainer is Betsy Leondar-Wright, one of the co-founders of Class Action. She comes from an upper-middle-class background. Betsy is the author of Missing Class: Strengthening Social Movement Groups by Seeing Class Cultures. She has facilitated over 100 class and classism workshops since the 1980s, including three weekend Class Action Trainings of Trainers.

We have two UK co-facilitators:
Kathryn Tulip is an activist and also a trainer/facilitator with Navigate Co-operative. She comes from a working-class background. She has led anti-oppression workshops and supported groups when issues of classism, racism and sexism have arisen.
Editor of Peace News, Milan Rai is an activist and trainer from a professional-middle-class background. He participated in a Class Action training of trainers in Seattle in August 2016.

Who should apply?

  • If you want your grassroots social change group or NGO to become less classist and more class-inclusive in the way that it works, this is for you. 
  • If you want to raise class awareness in your union, your hospital, your university, your church, mosque or synagogue, or other organisation, this is for you too. 
  • If you are a trainer or consultant serving many organisations, or if you want to become one, this is for you.

This workshop is for people who have experience in one or more of these areas:

  • Leading any kind of workshop about any social issue, 
  • Consciousness-raising or education on class issues, 
  • Community or union organising with working-class or poor people.

This course probably won’t be useful to you if you are mainly interested in other kinds of good class-related work - such as directly serving people in need, policy research or advocacy, academic writing on class, or building new economy alternatives.

Everyone is welcome to apply. Our selection process aims to create a learning environment that is diverse by race, class, age, gender, sexual orientation and ability. We want working-class and raised-in-poverty participants; participants who are Muslims and from other marginalised faith backgrounds; trans, queer and LGB+ participants; Black and Asian participants; participants with visible and invisible disabilities; immigrants and participants who've experienced marginalisation because of their age. We also accept people in different movement sectors, with different levels of experience and across geography. Diversity is our strength.

Space is limited, so not everyone who applies will be able to attend.

If you’re uncertain whether this training is right for you, please do get in touch: skillingup@peacenews.info

This course may be right for you if you resonate with our five underlying perspectives:

1. Class injustice (classism) is not just about poverty and financial hardship; it is also about the unequal respect and opportunities given to people of different education levels, occupations, cultures, accents, ranks, types of housing and neighbourhoods.

2. The same ugly stereotypes about working-class and poor people that are used to justify policies that widen economic inequality also poison our own mission-driven organisations and keep our lives too class-segregated. Reducing classism means working on all those levels at once.

3. Class identity intersects with race, gender and other identities. It’s impossible to work effectively on classism without also tackling racism and all other ‘isms’. Just as racism or sexism workshops can inspire efforts to reduce race or gender injustice, so classism workshops can spark efforts for economic justice and more class-inclusive organizations.

4. Sharing personal class life stories is a crucial ingredient in freeing up people’s energy to work against class injustice. The ‘popular education’ method of experiential, interactive group learning works to break the silence about the lived experience of class inequality. We approach each other’s class stories with curiosity and compassion, without blame, guilt or shame.

5. People of all classes have important roles to play in building a movement to end class injustice. Working-class and poor people can share their lived experience of class inequities and can take leadership in organising directly affected people. Middle-class and owning-class people can speak up as allies, organise other privileged people, and share their own human stories that break the myth of middle-class superiority. Mixed-class and class-shifting people can be bridges across the class divide. Authentic human connection in a mixed-class group can be transformational for everyone.

This covers food, accommodation, handouts and training.

£220 Individuals who are well-off
£110 Individuals making ends meet (including those voluntarily not working full-time)
£60 Individuals who are involuntarily low-income (involuntarily unemployed, low-waged with dependents, retired on state pension)

Please contact us if you are employed by an NGO and would like to attend. You will need to apply in the NGO category (see below), not as an individual.

We also have full scholarships based on need which cover both participation and travel. Please let us know on your application form if you would like to apply for one.

Large NGO £500 ( £417 ex VAT)
Medium NGO £240 (£200 ex VAT)

Location & timings
The venue is fully wheelchair-accessible and is in Gloucestershire.
The workshop will start at 7pm on Thursday 14 June and end at 4pm on Sunday 17 June. Because of our experiential approach, it is not possible to come late, leave early, or break in the middle of a workshop. Please note that building skills as a trainer can raise important personal issues; emotions may surface during the trainings. Please also be aware that the workshop will start early and go on into the evenings, depending on the training design, the energy of the participants and the group's momentum. Throughout the day, there are ample breaks for rest and for meals, which are included in the fee and served on site.

How to apply
Please fill out this application form to apply for the workshop. Early registration is strongly encouraged - the final closing date for applications is 1 May.

Further details
If you need further details, please feel free to contact Peace News editor Milan Rai on 07980 748 555 or via skillingup@peacenews.info