How to run a community stall

A table covered with materials for the Don't Pay campaign

A guide from the Don't Pay campaign on how to run a community stall. While some of the suggestions here are specific to the Don't Pay campaign, most of it should be suitable for other contexts.

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Submitted by R Totale on September 5, 2022

How to run a community stall

Key Things to Do

Before the day

1. Coordinating: Decide who will make sure that all of the below happens. This is ideally one or two people only, who keep track of everything - this doesn’t mean they have to do all the work themselves! Think about how this coordinating can be rotated so that more people feel confident to lead organising future stalls.
2. When and Where: Choose location and make sure everyone knows how to get there. Make sure you know the area well and plan exactly where to put the stall (a busy but spacious area without too many other distractions is best, eg outside a shopping centre), and choose a nearby spot as a meeting place to have an initial briefing.
3. People: Share the place and time in meetings and via whatsapp and telegram, and also ask others individually who might want to help, thinking about how this action can support people’s development in the campaign. Keep checking in with people who have volunteered to make sure they are still keen and know it is going ahead.
4. Materials: Plan who is going to bring everything you need and make sure you know where these are stored (see materials checklist).
5. Exciting activities: What could you add to make your stall even more engaging?
6. Reminder: Send everyone who said they would come a reminder on the day/the day before. Give them a contact number to call if they are lost or late.

On the day

1. Briefing: organise a 20-30 minute briefing beforehand - this can be in a nearby park or outside a local cafe - see briefing below.
2. Roles: make sure everyone knows their role and feels confident (see below)
3. Set up stall: Bring posters, leaflets, badges and any extra eye-catching and interesting materials/activities that you’ve agreed on! Check out the Don’t Pay store to get materials: order leaflets and stickers, or print your own.
4. Sign up new pledges & organisers: make sure you have some smartphones or a laptop so people can sign up on the spot - https://dontpay.uk/get-involved/ - and add them to the local whatsapp and/or telegram channels.
5. Keep the energy up: celebrate good conversations and new sign ups, support people doing it for the first time, have lots of refreshments available. And use it as a chance to build relationships within the team on the stall!
6. Have a clear end time: better to end on a high than let it peter out.
7. Debrief: how did it feel, what went well, what could be improved next time?

After the day

1. Make sure you call or message anyone who signed up within a few days. Give them a role and get them involved in your group quickly to make sure they become active. It’s best if those of you who met the people in person make the phone calls, but others in your local group can do it too. Also contact anyone who was doing the stall for the first time to check in.
2. Share any thoughts from the debrief among the rest of the outreach team or your local group so that the next stall can learn from the experience.

Briefing

A briefing helps everyone to feel confident in knowing how this work fits with the overall plan of Don’t Pay, and what is expected of them on the day. It is also a chance to build relationships among the people running the stall.

1. Introductions - take time to welcome everyone into the group, depending on numbers and time you can do a go-round of names and people’s previous experience of doing stalls, and/or discussions in pairs talking about why we got involved in the campaign.
2. Why are we here? Street outreach is a key part of Don’t Pay’s strategy to build a mass movement against the hike in energy bills. It is vital for our continuing growth and renewal as we get more local organisers, pledges, and contacts – they bring skills, new perspectives, links with new groups and communities, time and energy into the campaign.
3. Run through the example conversation script and have a practice (see script below)
4. Share the links to pledge, join local WhatsApp and telegram groups, and sign up as an organiser, make sure everyone can access them, and explain why it’s important.

Debrief

After you finish the stall, it’s a good idea for you to take 10 mins to:

Reflect on how the stall went

In what ways did the stall today meet our aims? (see Briefing section) What could be improved for next time? What was people’s experience? You could do this as a go-round so everyone gets a chance to speak. This is a useful way of improving our practice of stalls, and picking up and responding to any negative experiences people may have had.

Arrange follow-up phone calls with people you spoke to

- It’s the responsibility of people who organise the stall to do follow-up with the people you chat to. Follow-up is really important because often people need more than a one-off encounter to get involved, and It’s good to do follow up as soon after the stall as you can.
- As part of your debrief chat, decide who is going to call who and for what purpose, e.g. reiterating the invite to a meeting, offering to sit down one to one, or chatting to them about their energy bills
- Even once someone has come to a meeting, it’s important to carry on building relationships, and often being the first person that they spoke to on the street can be the basis of a strong ongoing relationship.

Materials Checklist

Essential:

- A table
- Don’t Pay leaflets, stickers and posters for on and around the stall. Do you have any materials in languages other than English?
- Phones/laptop/battery packs to recharge to make sure you can sign new members up online.
- Drinks and refreshments

Optional:

- Flyers with upcoming meeting dates on, if your local group has one planned
- Don’t Pay banner, flags, and placards. Currently not available to be ordered, but groups can create their own.
- Sweets, balloons or other stuff for children
- A microphone and speaker/PA system or megaphone for people to speak on.
- Mini speaker for tunes
- Any other materials for specific activities

More Ideas to Make Your Stall Dynamic and Engaging

People often have a limited idea of what a stall can include. Although it usually includes a table, giving out flyers and stopping people to talk, it can (and ideally should) include so much more.

In general the more you put in the more you will get out. Here are a range of things that have been done on previous stalls, from the simple to the elaborate, but the options are limitless!

- Large posters/placards with questions, eg ‘are your bills too high?’, taped to trees/lamp-posts on the approach to the stall - this gives people more advanced warning of what we’re about and more likely to stop.
- Whiteboards, or large boards with post-its/paper and pins, with simple question/poll ‘Who is to blame for our bills being so high? (energy companies/government/fossil capital) etc - gives people an easier way into conversation that feels less direct about their own situation.
- Speak-outs, where organisers and members of the public can speak on the mic about their own situation. Done well, this is incredibly powerful and can attract a crowd.
- Games on the stall - from simple ‘pin the tail on the energy minister’, ‘bills bingo’ to ‘throw a sponge at the shell exec in the stocks’ - fun icebreakers can also bring a crowd. Can be combined with an open mic - you have to speak on the mic in order to have a go at the game.
- Street theatre, dressing up and singing - these require more prep but in the right place can draw a crowd in

Example outreach conversation

Remember: Listen! You should do 70% listening, 30% talking. Don’t worry about getting this perfect – you’re there to build relationships, so use your judgement about where the conversation should go.

1. Getting people to stop and chat

It’s important to engage someone quickly, some opening questions could be:

“Are you worried about your energy bills?”; “Are your bills too high?”

2. Very quick explanation of who we are

“I’m part of Don’t Pay, and we’re demanding a reduction of energy bills to an affordable level. We plan to gather a million people to pledge not to pay their energy bills if the government goes ahead with another massive hike on October 1st.”

3. Ask a specific forward-looking question to encourage them to share

“Would you consider refusing to pay your energy bills?”

If yes- great! [see part 5 on getting them involved]

If not, ask “What concerns do you have?”

Make sure you listen! Provide affirmation, and if they express concerns that you share, let them know you are on the same page. Don’t be afraid to talk about your personal experiences and why you have decided to take the pledge.

4. Address their concerns & emphasise their involvement would be part of a collective mass campaign with over a million other people!

See below section for a list of responses to questions/concerns people may have.

5. If they’re up for joining

o Asks of people in suggested priority order:
- Get them signed up to the UK-wider campaign: https://dontpay.uk/get-involved/
- Take a phone number and/or email address to add them to local message chats or email lists. Does this person have access to the Internet? Zoom? WhatsApp? Will they need assistance to access these tools?
- Invite them to a meeting if the local group has one planned
- (if relevant) You mentioned you’re part of Y community, could you talk to them about Don’t Pay?

o if they’re still not up for joining…
Invite them to local group meeting/give a flyer. Try to collect an email so you can send more info. But don’t pressure people - if they’re not interested that’s ok too!

Information to inform your conversations

We're constantly publishing resources on this site to help you have better conversations.

Some things you'll find helpful:

- The 'About' section of this site contains information about the campaign and our plan for the strike.
- The FAQs has answers to lots of common questions we get.
- Our Articles section has more in-depth information about bigger issues related to the energy and cost of living crisis.