The Sheila McKechnie Foundation (SMK) was established in 2005 to help develop a new generation of campaigners who are tackling the root causes of injustice. Through courses, events and good practice, SMK equips individuals, groups and communities with the skills to bring about change on issues that are important to them, empowering people to have a voice. Oak has been supporting SMK to work with our Child Abuse Programme (CAP) partners since 2014. In addition, from 2009-2013, SMK worked extensively with our Housing and Homelessness Programme partners.
Earlier this week, SMK held a training session in Nairobi, Kenya with a range of CAP partners. Four main facilitators and three guest speakers with extensive experience in advocacy and campaigns presented on a range of topics including, but not limited to, pitch building for the media and strategy development for building momentum. Participants also took part in one-to-one sessions with facilitators to discuss individual challenges. “The training helps me to be deliberate and focused as I lead the communication work around preventing violence against children in Ugandan schools,” says Peter Bahemuka, a participant from Raising Voices Uganda. “It has been useful because it gives us specific tools and skills to be able to plan advocacy and then evaluate to see if you make a difference,” says Lynnette Kay from Retrak Ethiopia.
This latest training session is just part of a larger support which SMK has been developing and delivering for many Oak Foundation grantees. As well as the week-long residential course mentioned above which took place in Nairobi, the ‘campaigning and influencing support’ programme also includes a bespoke follow-up support to help CAP partners take effective action. “It helps to focus on who I should be targeting in terms of child protection,” says Helen Njeri Kagucia from Caucus for Children's Rights. “A lot of the work we do is nuanced and this helps me to narrow down what message to give, to whom and how to package it so that it's suitable for them.” According to Zelalem Anteneh from Ethiopia Society of Sociologists Social Workers and Anthropologists, one of the key takeaways from SMK’s work is visibility; “if we get visibility and recognition of what we do, it leads to our work bringing impact,” Anteneh says.
SMK’s project forms part of the broader organisational development and capacity building work which Oak Foundation makes available to its grantees. Adriana Craciun, Oak’s Senior Adviser on organisational development and capacity building, attended SMK’s training in Nairobi and found it inspirational. “Change is not an isolated occurrence but a systematic process which needs vision, communication, strategy and a lot of persistence. Our partners are very driven by the urgency and gravity of the issues they are dealing with – we just prop and guide their passion to become reality,” she says.
Oak and SMK’s capacity building and training impact hundreds of organisations around the world annually, all in different ways. Esther Ssebyala from Global Health Uganda is not directly involved in advocacy work instead serving as a re-granter, but the training has helped empower Ssebyala to provide better support to the grantees. “I know now what questions to ask them. It has turned out to be very useful,” she says.
To find out more about Oak Foundation’s capacity building work visit this page on our website.
To find out more about the Child Abuse Programme work visit this page on our website.