Actions: petitions, e-actions, public demos

To make the most out of actions, think of them as ‘sparks’ that have been triggered by another activity (such as raising awareness through community engagement or publicity).

Actions are usually undertaken when other avenues are considered ineffective. Therefore always find out whether your concerns can be addressed another way first (like a complaints procedure or meeting a representative).

If you have decided action is necessary then make sure you are clear about why you are doing it, the outcome you want, how it can be coordinated with other activities to have a bigger impact and what further action is required to meet your overall end objectives.


Petitions are a formal written request, signed by many people, addressed to representatives or authorities regarding a particular cause.

Online petitions tend to get further reach and there are a number of independent organisations that can make it much easier for people to start one such as or 38 degrees. The government also host petitions on their Petitions website. If these are not accessible it is always worth contacting organisations to specify accessibility needs to see what they can do.

Petitions do not need a host organisation. You can collect signatures yourself and send it to the relevant people you want to influence. If you do this, always make sure you have a copy of your petition.


E-actions are coordinated actions online which can include things like asking people to write to an MP or councillor about a specific issue.

If you are asking lots of people to write to a relevant person or organisation - make it easy for them! Provide them with template letters, let them know how they can contact the relevant recipient and provide guidance on what they can do with responses.

Public demonstrations

There are many different forms of public demonstrations including stunts, rallies/marches, and mass lobbies. The key aspect is a gathering of people who support the same cause, with the intention of creating a public spectacle. The purpose is usually to highlight an issue, demonstrate mass support, gain publicity, and/or increase pressure on decision makers, to affect change.

Everyone has a right to protest, however when organising always make sure you are mindful of legalities and permissions required as well as any risk associated with the type of action you wish to carry out, the time you wish to do it, and for the location you would like to carry it out in. Provide a detailed brief to attendees.

First published: Wednesday 5 April 2017
Updated: Wednesday 5 April 2017