EXAMPLE of a Plan for a workshop

This is a plan for a 2 hours workshop. If you are running a shorter workshop, say less for each point, and keep enough time to mention all your key ideas.

Here is a time-annotated Eviction Resistance Workshop EXAMPLE. And below, an example of things you could say in each section.

 

Introduction

If the person who invited you to do the workshop wants, it’s good if they can say a few words at the start about “Why is this workshop happening”.

Then I like to start the workshop with an introduction of the Eviction Resistance Network and the Radical Housing Network, followed (if there is enough time) by a circle of presentations, maybe with ONLY one sentence about their feelings relating to eviction resistance. Tell them that it must be very short! (20 people speaking for 1 minute, that’s already 20 minutes gone! And if they start to interact…).

Followed by a VERY brief outline of the plan of the workshop (don’t get into any details). For example

“There will be two parts:

- stopping the bailiffs, and

- how to support someone long term throughout the whole eviction process.”

And two words about “not getting lost into Broad-political-ideas Land nor Housing-Law Land”.

Then I like to speak about why resist an eviction (the law is on the side of landlords: “when the State turns it back, citizens have to self-organize”), why it’s effective (it’s not a short-term patch nor a one-day event, it CAN be PART OF a campaign for long term housing), and why it’s useful in the broader political situation (with every eviction resistance we grow stronger and we send a message). But you might want to start differently.

For me, some ideas that are important to share in a workshop are:

 

1. How to Stop the bailiffs:

    – Meet 30min earlier
    – stand between the bailiffs and the door, peacefully but convincingly: “we will not move, you will not get in today”.
    – The bailiffs must show an ID and a warrant signed and stamped by a judge.
    - County Court bailiffs expect cooperation. When they encounter resistance they try to scare or bully, and then leave.
    – What can bailiffs do (“reasonable force“: pushing or pulling someone), what can they NOT do (punch someone to get in), so don’t be scared for children.
    – Obstructing County Court bailiffs is not criminal for tenants holding over: it’s a civil matter, so the police cannot get involved.
- The police can only get involved if a crime is committed, for example if there is a breach of the peace. So if the bailiffs assault you, the police should stop them.
    – Bailiffs and police WILL try to bully and scare you. And they don’t know the law. Don’t be intimidated, and ask the police to ask their superior officers.

Make it a family-friendly celebration of solidarity. Think about the ambiance, bring tea, biscuits, music if you want, or even a BBQ. Children can be a very good support, they sometimes deal with stress much better than we do. And bailiffs are less likely to be aggressive in front of children. But it’s important to have someone assigned to each child, to take them away just in case bailiffs would be too aggressive.

You might have enough time to speak about useful Roles that people could take:
    1. care for people inside the house, and update them about the situation outside
    2. dialogue with the bailiffs and police, and follow them so you can know when they leave and celebrate.
     3. be social: inform and reassure people about what the bailiffs and police can and cannot do. And engage bypassers! It’s so good for people, when they see that their neighbors care and will support them. Also, get phone numbers of everyone at the end, in case of emergency.
    4. film the bailiffs (but NEVER livestream, as you can never take it back, and it could be used as incriminating evidence in court if anyone did something criminal)
And that’s not on the day of the eviction, but it is also very useful for someone to
    5. be the contact person between the family and supporters, before and after the day of the eviction

In some workshops there is not enough time to speak about these “useful Roles”, so I just don’t do it. It’s less important than the legal information and than speaking about support and care. Once again, when you prepare the workshop think about who you are doing this workshop for, how much time you have, and what really are the most important ideas to share. What you DON’T speak about is more important than what you do speak about, because it leaves more time for people to participate and feel involved. They will have other opportunities to speak about these roles. Or perhaps they could be written on a leaflet to bring to an eviction.

You might also want to speak about “what next“: how to use a successful eviction resistance for putting pressure on the landlord or local housing office to obtain a long term housing solution. Or you might want to let people ask the question. Or tell them that you will speak about it in the second part. Here are some ideas:
    – If people are supported by a group and make it obvious to the council, they are generally re-housed very fast (have examples to mention: the Focus E15 Mothers for example)
- Demonstrate at the council office or at the owner’s office, asking to speak to someone who can do something about the case. Come with banners, stickers, balloons, etc. It will impress them and show them your resolve. Speak with the employees there, so people speak about it in the council
    – Get media attention
    – Organize friendly socials: having good times together is what keeps us strong
Ok, that’s the first part of the workshop done, and now a PROPER BREAK! (I say 10 minutes and it ends up 15, which is just enough time for brains to cool down).

2. Key Principles

First there are two ways of supporting someone threatened by eviction:
    – CARE for the person affected:
Both emotional support: “it’s not your fault”, and make them feel that they are not alone.
And practical support in everyday life: child care, cooking, going to the council office with them, phone calls, paperwork, organizing a diner with supporters, etc. Instead of just reciting a list, you could do a round of ideas where each person would say one thing that they could do to support a friend. They will be touched and inspired by each others ideas.
    – EMPOWER the people affected: let them take the lead and support them, rather than doing it all for them. Their supporters will feel who they are supporting, which gives them strength; and they will feel stronger bonds with their supported. Fighting for oneself can be very therapeutic and reassuring.

And two principles for pushing for a solution:
    – the power of joining or creating a GROUP of mutual support. People in power are scared of this power, use it.
    – LINK individual and collective struggles. This enables the change from a narrative where it’s “my fault” into a narrative where it’s the fault of unfair economic and political structures. This gives a lot of strength.

 

3. What next?

At this point in general I pass a contact paper around for people to write their name, phone number and email, to stay in touch and continue the conversation. And Eviction Resistance Network flyers if I have them.

Then it’s about achieving the outcome that I hope for this workshop. So if my goal is to get people to create a local group against eviction, sometimes I choose to get them to brainstorm ideas of things they can do locally, to stay in touch and to resist evictions. Or doing a round of ideas, or something.

At the end I like to say a few words about what the Eviction Resistance Network can do for this group of people, and what they can do for us, so “stay in touch! Let’s keep working together!”

 

Final Words

Emotionally for the attendants, this workshop plan has three parts:

  1.  ER-specific information which is hard to find anywhere else, to make people informed and interested
  2. Emotional and practical discussions, where I very briefly introduce a subject and then ask people to speak about it.
  3. Open discussion. As the workshop goes people get more and more involved, until this last step where they get to imagine future actions together.

But please, oh please, DO NOT FOLLOW THIS EXACT PLAN. Imagine your own: it depends who you are doing it for, etc. You might want to choose a similar “three parts” structure, but write it with your own words without looking at this one. Because the way you handle the workshop is as important as the content, if not more. So be sure to read the page How to do an Eviction Resistance workshop!