Peckham Sponsors Refugees is the Community Sponsorship group that we are currently setting up in Peckham. We held our first meeting recently, and were pleasantly surprised to see that over one hundred people turned up.
To organise this massive public meeting, it took about six weeks of preparation. I started by reaching out to people I knew in Peckham, asking them to help me with ideas on how to broadcast the meeting to the rest of Peckham. One of our first advertisements was at Pexmas, our local Christmas market. We were donated a small table next to the bar where we asked people to sign up and be involved. Following that event, I created a large email database of those who signed up, from which I would send out information and recruit volunteers.
My next step was to create various social media accounts to have an online presence. We created a Facebook event for the meeting and I regularly tweeted from our Twitter account. The social media was a useful tool; it got a small following of people who were interested in what Peckham Sponsors Refugees was all about. Although, from the responses I received from the meeting, it was not our best outreach. I would not obsess with your digital presence; our best response and a lot of the turnout came from the people who had seen the leaflets.
I ordered around seven thousand leaflets, with a very simple, home made design on and roped in fifteen volunteers. In total we delivered almost six thousand leaflets and spent about twenty hours out leafleting between us. One lady from the meeting lived near the meeting venue and just wanted to meet her neighbours, another came because she had not seen a local meeting advertised by leaflets in such a long time. The interest was not just from those who are passionate about refugee issues, some of the locals wanted to be a part of a new community group.
I also contacted local businesses, pushing them to tweet out their support, and I asked the nearby university to put the meeting details out through their Student Union. I have also asked the local newspapers and Women’s Institute to run stories with the success of the first meeting, but I also asked them to tweet out the details of our public meeting. Finally, I reached out to our local religious groups, meeting with our local Imam, who mentioned the meeting in the Friday service, and the nearby churches who advertised the meeting it in their Sunday services.
The incredibly large turn out of our public meeting displays the importance of local advertising, and not relying too heavily on your social media presence. We are hoping to follow this meeting up with a core group meet, where we already have over forty people signed up.