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Common Cause Training: Values, Leadership & Social Change

23rd — 26th June 2015

A residential training course in the applied psychology of human motivation for communicators, organisers and leaders of social change

This summer, we’re offering three days of practical and inspiring participatory learning in the beautiful mid-Wales hills. Together, we’ll be using the Common Cause approach to explore the psychology of values and develop tools for applying it to our work.


Wise, expansive wonderful ‘weekend’ with time to think and be. Exceeded my expectations… Facilitation was excellent, responsive. In the weeks since the course ended a definite shift has taken place at my organisation.”

Susan, Buglife

Application form

What you’ll leave with

By the end of the three days, you’ll know how to:

  • frame messages in a way that will coherently and effectively engage with the values of others, help your own organisation’s goals, and benefit the rest of civil society;
  • create strategies and campaigns that will be effective in the long-term and short-term alike;
  • understand the role of values in organisational dynamics and in change programmes;
  • identify disparate organisations working towards the same values and understand how to build alliances with them;
  • communicate your insights about values and frames to others, including the rest of your organisation.

We will also help you to establish a network of support in the months following the training.

“This training was the perfect way to get to a new, deeper level of understanding. It was absolutely inspiring, brilliantly facilitated with a great mixture of expert input, group discussion and personal reflection, and ideally ‘framed’ in the gorgeous setting of CAT. I came away with loads of ideas, more confidence to apply values and frames thinking, and even more conviction that this is something my organisation needs to be doing. I totally recommend the training to anyone who is itching to know more about how to work with Common Cause principles.”

Fran, Friends of the Earth Europe

Why you’ll love it

On the training you’ll get a chance to connect with with a diverse group of inspiring people, in the beautiful surrounds of the Welsh mountains. There will be time for personal reflection, for sharing each other’s experience and understanding, and also for working together to come up with solutions to challenges in your work.

“It was an inspiring subject, setting and group of like-minded people which allowed for an exciting development of teachings, ideas and creative development over a course which was just long enough. I arrived not sure what to expect and was blown away on every level. The facilitators do an incredible job of making it accessible to everyone and the approach to working and teaching techniques is unlike anything I’ve ever done for that extended amount of time. It really helped us retain a lot of the ideas and teachings.”

Dom & Jimmy, MinuteWorks

Who it’s for

To make sure the group gets the most out of the three days, we ask a few things of you. You’ll be working for social change or interested in ensuring that your organisation does as much as it can to protect the environment and to promote a just world, and it’s critical that you: 

  • Have had a prior introduction to Common Cause: preferably through a workshop (please get in touch if you haven’t been to a workshop before to discuss whether this training will be suitable for you).
  • Are enthusiastic about applying Common Cause in your own work
  • Are motivated to work with other people and from different organisations and sectors

If you’d like to read up on Common Cause work, start with our publications here.

When & where 

23–26 June 2015 at the Centre for Alternative Technology, Machynlleth


Shared (4-bed rooms): £450
Shared (twin rooms): £550
Single rooms: £660

Prices include accommodation, meals and refreshments, and course materials.

The accommodation is in CAT’s rustic and communal Eco Cabins, powered by their own solar panels, hydro turbine and wood-burner. It’s cosy but basic. Please bring towels and anything else you need to feel comfortable, and get in touch if you’d like any more details.


Want to come, but can’t afford it? We will be offering a few full and partial bursaries for people working for small organisations, with networks on a voluntary basis, or in low-income social change work. Please contact us if you would like to be considered for a bursary.

We’d also love to hear from you if you could support us giving out bursary places — perhaps, for example, you’d like to come and your organisation could afford more than the costs we’re asking. You’re doing something great!


Please fill in the application form. If you would like a form sent via email or snail mail for you to fill in, please email Jamie. All applications should be received by us no later than April 22nd, and we will let you know within three weeks of this date whether your application has been successful.


Pamela Candea, The Surefoot Effect; Rebecca Nestor, Learning for Good; Elena Blackmore, PIRC; Richard Hawkins, PIRC; Tom Crompton, WWF; Ralph Underhill, PIRC; Jamie McQuilkin, PIRC.

Detailed programme

Will be circulated nearer the time.

Want to know more?

If you want to discuss your participation with one of the workshop organisers please email Jamie. 

More from last year’s participants: 

“Inspiring AND practical…”

James, National Union of Students

“This is an eyeopening course that got me to totally re-evaluate the way we interact with and communicate with our members. It doesn’t only get you to question what you are doing but provides a really useful toolkit of what you can do instead. All round, very worthwhile.”

Marina, The Mammal Society

“Common Cause training sessions open you up to a new perspective on the power of values in our culture; you’re given the space to question the assumptions you brought with you, while being provided with the support needed to see the process through. It’s engaging, compassionate, and manages to resonate across sectors. The training challenges and uplifts at the same time, and you won’t see your work in quite the same way afterwards.”

Roy, World Animal Protection

Rekindling Kindliness: Learning from Hebden Bridge

Last week, the Joseph Rowntree Foundation released a report that calls for more kindness in communities, and outlines some ways that helpfulness and support can be encouraged.

It shows that kindness takes different forms,  not all of them equal in their impact, and it looks at a real British community (Hebden Bridge) to make recommendations that can be applied elsewhere.

The report reveals a perverse truth:  most people think that giving help is good, but that receiving or soliciting help is bad.

Vulnerability (exposing a need for help) is seen as the counterweight to dignity (maintaining self-reliance and independence). If we want an antidote to lonely, alienated Britain, it is this psychology we ultimately have to challenge.

Four of a Kind

When talking about kindness, its seems that people tend towards four different orientations.

4 Kinds of Helping - by Bec Sanderson

4 Kinds of Helping by Bec Sanderson, based on ‘Landscapes of Helping: Kindliness in Neighbourhoods and Communities’, Joseph Rowntree Foundation, 2015

Here we explore what they might mean in terms of values: Read more




Values: 58 Ideas We Live By  is a beautiful deck of cards for exploring who we are, designed by Genis Carreras in collaboration with PIRC.

“Love. Creativity. Enjoyment. Curiosity. Friendship. Purpose. Psychological research shows that we are all driven by the same things — but differ in how we prioritise them. Fifty-eight values guide our lives, shaping who we are, what we do, and ultimately the kind of society we live in.”

Whether you’re just mildly interested in values or a fully fledged Common Cause geek looking for workshop material, this little deck deserves a place in your life…

Support the project and get some cards.

Year in review


Great stuff that we were involved in this year, limited to 140 character snippets, like those  “tweet” things, because we are down with the kids…

Equinet commissioned us to research equality and tolerance in Europe, and we went data mining to pull out some significant trends

Wales was sunny for 3 whole days (!) while we held a Common Cause residential training with a great group of people. Highlights included a spontaneous ceilidh and some extreme frisbee.

Along with nef and FinanceLab we launched Campaign Lab 3: a popular 6-month training programme for civil society campaigners, activists and organisers.

We were part of a major piece of research into the way that charities communicate by WWF-UK and Scope called No Cause is an Island.

We teamed up with Equally Ours and Counterpoint to explore how Human Rights are framed in British newspapers: report coming soon!

We helped out with the ‘Communities with a Common Cause’ Action Learning Programme in Scotland which was recognised with a UNESCO Outstanding Flagship Project award.

We co-hosted our first Values & Education conference with Character Scotland and Lifeworlds Learning, bringing 60+ researchers and educationalists together to discuss practice and policy.

LGBTI advocacy group ILGA Europe brought us to Brussels to host 3 days of training on equality framing and campaigning. Something we hope to build on in 2015.

We helped the Common Cause international network to grow, with new groups in Canada, Germany and the Netherlands and plans underway for a dedicated Common Cause organisation in Australia!

We have also done loads of great work with a variety of people and organisations and we would like to take this opportunity to thank you for it. We did start making a list of all the people we would like to thank but there were so many of you it got a little long — rest assured we loved working with you and are thankful for your help and support.

7 Blogging Highlights

  1. We need to talk about alienation!: The dirty word that’s due a comeback…
  2. Visualising values: Introducing some amazing design work from Genis Carreras (that has since been made into some beautiful values cards).
  3. Shared ownership: Why democratic processes can make us all better people.
  4. On having more than two sides: An important debate about the psychology research that Common Cause is based on.
  5. Communication is conservation: Some key recommendations following the publication of the Common Cause for Nature report.
  6. Why you accidently called your teacher ‘mum’: Insights from anthropology work on Relational Models.
  7. The power of hashtags: A critical look at social media in campaigns like #BringBackOurGirls.

Coming next year

Some of the things we’ll be doing include:

A second edition of the Common Cause Handbook.

Working with several UK conservation NGOs we’re launching the second phase of Common Cause for Nature.

With Genis Carreras, we’re launching a Kickstarter for a set of beautiful value-graphic cards.

Along with FinanceLab and nef we’re hoping to launch Campaign Lab 4.

In collaboration with Simon Harris, and funding permitting, we’ll be launching Culture Lab: a 6-month action learning programme for arts and culture leaders in Wales.

Having just got started with the first few seminars, we’ll be continuing work on a Welsh Government supported Food Values project with the Organic Centre Wales.


Ant, Bec, Elena, Jamie, Kevin, Ralph, Rich, Tanya & Tim.

Hate racism, love Finland:
10 ways values link to prejudices across Europe

What do you value in life?

If you ask anybody this question, there’s surprising similarity in what people say. You can generally put people’s values into four broad groups:

  1. Change & autonomy values, such as creativity and freedom,are linked to tolerance and comfort with difference. (Openness-to-change values)
  2. Care & empathy values are all about concern for others and the environment, equality and tolerance. (Self-transcendence, or intrinsic values)
  3. Stability & security values, such as social order and respect for tradition, are associated with maintenance of the status quo and discomfort with other groups. (Conservation values)
  4. Power & competition values are linked to prejudice, discrimination, materialism and concern about status, self and money. (Self-enhancement, or extrinsic values)

We all hold all of these values, but to different degrees. These four groups work in opposition to each other as in the diagram below. Care/empathy values are opposite power/competition, and change/autonomy values oppose stability/security values. This means we’re unlikely to value one set highly if we value the other set highly. (Read more about how this works here!)

values_four_way Read more

The special theory of relationships – or why you accidently called your teacher ‘mum’

The desire to understand and classify different types of human relationships isn’t new; we’ve been pondering it for thousands of years. What rules govern our interactions? And how do relationships shape us into the people we become?

The answers aren’t immediately straight forward, because the way we interact with each other is influenced by many things: how well we know and trust people, who’s got more power, the agreed understanding of reciprocation or exchange, and whether we converge around a common interest or selfish need. These things can be very fluid, too. Think about how you’d interact with a friend, a colleague, your grandmother, in a range of different situations. While you might see these people as being in different ‘categories’ of relationship, you probably have a rich variety of ways you interact with every one of them. Moment to moment, mood to mood, you’ll be laughing, arguing, teaching, ignoring or sharing with each other, although perhaps not in equal measure.

As social creatures, our experience of relationships is a huge part of how we develop. Our values, personalities and tastes are strongly influenced by our interactions with our parents growing up, with our colleagues at work, with the natural world. And this influence goes both ways. Not only do our values inform the types of relationships we seek, but our values also change over time as a result of our relationships. By understanding this feedback loop a little better, we gain useful insights into social and environmental problems.

Relationship theory is a tool to guide better ways of talking to each other, organising our workplace, and supporting campaigns or causes. Read more