Trained activists are at the heart of Greenpeace’s world-changing campaigns, and there are different roles to suit your skills and situation.

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What do Greenpeace activists do?

Greenpeace activists peacefully expose, confront or disrupt environmental injustice. They often directly target the companies or government bodies responsible for the damage, using creative tactics to disrupt their operations and draw public attention to what they’re doing. These kinds of protests are known as non-violent direct actions (or just ‘actions’).

See some examples

Five things to know about being an activist

  1. Activism is a powerful, proven way to change the world. Many of the freedoms we enjoy today were won through peaceful protest.
  2. Greenpeace actions are carefully planned, usually in secret, and activists work as a team to carry out the plan.
  3. Taking action can be tiring and emotionally intense, with lots of highs and lows.
  4. Activists come from all walks of life, and many cultures have proud activist traditions.
  5. Being an activist means taking calculated risks. Actions and protests are often illegal, so activists in some roles risk getting a criminal conviction.

► Watch: what people get wrong about activism

 

Who does what?

Communicator

Communicators talk to passers-by as the action unfolds, answering questions and building support for the campaign.

Lock-on

Lock-ons attach themselves to something, allowing them to occupy a space for a long time. Lock-ons can always self-release, but will often stay put until the police cut them free.

Peacekeeper

It's everyone's responsibility to practise non-violence and keep things calm, but peacekeepers are there to diffuse more difficult situations with people who are unhappy with our protest.

Climber

Greenpeace climbers enable us to take action high above ground. They’ll access hard-to-reach spaces to draw public attention, or block a destructive activity.

“I always feel a sense of community and camaraderie when we assemble together and prep for actions – it feels like a family get together!”
Pattie, Greenpeace activist
Life Onboard the Arctic Sunrise in Le Havre

 

Who can be an activist?

You don’t need to have special skills to be an activist. You also don’t need to be unusually brave or physically strong.

You do need to be:

  • Over 18 and living in the UK.
  • Available for actions a few times a year, including on weekdays (we aim to give at least one month notice).
  • Committed to the idea of nonviolent protest.
  • Reliably calm and composed in high-pressure, sometimes hostile situations.
  • Happy to work as part of a team and follow an agreed plan.
  • Able to recognise and manage feelings like stress and anxiety in a constructive way.
  • Committed to preserving the secrecy of an upcoming action, even from the people closest to you.
  • Willing to risk a criminal conviction. This could impact things like insurance, mortgages, visas, access to jobs and ability to travel.

Greenpeace covers your expenses for each action you’re involved in, including travel and childcare.

An activist wearing a Greenpeace branded bobble hat smiles at a member of the public as they have a conversation during an action.
Activist holding banner saying "Drop dirty palm oil now"

Is activism safe?

Although activism does involve some calculated risks, the safety and welfare of activists is always our top priority. Here’s what you can expect:

  • Careful planning with experienced teams. Every action is carefully risk-assessed. We draw on decades of combined experience planning actions, and we factor in the current political, public and legal climate. We can (and do) stop actions if they’re putting anyone in unreasonable danger.
  • Proper training. Every activist is thoroughly safety trained. Training includes everything from the safe use of equipment like ladders and locks, to de-escalation and managing stress.
  • An informed decision, every time. You’ll get a detailed briefing before every action, including the rationale for what you’re doing, the legal implications for your role, and any other risks involved.
  • A round-the-clock welfare team. Our welfare volunteers will be there to support you during and after an action. From helping you get legal advice to giving you a lift home from the police station, they’ve got you covered.
  • A welcoming and inclusive community. You’ll be part of a friendly, well-organised activist network where everyone is welcome. We actively seek feedback, and create space to ask for info and support. If you have particular access needs, we’ll ensure these are covered wherever possible.
  • Fully funded legal support. If you’re arrested or charged, you’ll get professional legal representation and support from specialist solicitors tailored to your circumstances – all paid for by Greenpeace. We also cover any costs you incur as part of the action, and provide pastoral care until your case is resolved.
  • A go-to person for info and advice. After your training, you’ll be connected to an experienced activist who will keep you informed of upcoming actions and able to help you prepare for them.

 

“The planning, preparation and support from Greenpeace are second to none and I always feel valued and safe.”
Richard, Greenpeace activist
Richard Lancaster

Apply to join the next activist training weekend

6-7 July • London

The deadline for applications is 4pm on Tuesday 18 June 2024.

If you have a question or need help with your application, email actuk@greenpeace.org to get a quick answer or organise a chat.
 


 


About the training weekends

The next Greenpeace activist training weekend will take place on 6-7 July at Greenpeace UK’s office in London.

What you’ll learn:

Background

  • The history of non-violent direct action, and why it’s more important than ever.
  • How Greenpeace works, and how we fit into the wider movement.

Practical skills

  • Practicing non-violence and dealing with stressful situations
  • How to deal with the police, and common legal charges, with specific advice and techniques for historically overpoliced groups.
  • How to “act normal” and hide in plain sight.

Being an activist

  • How you get recruited onto Greenpeace actions, and how we take your feedback on board.
  • Anti-oppression and collective care, and joining the Greenpeace activist community.

Open to everyone

We’re committed to help with any practical or financial barriers that might stop you being able to join us.

We’ll cover your travel expenses to and from the training. There’ll be free food and basic overnight accommodation.

Wherever possible, we’ll accommodate your access needs. Our offices have:

  • Level access from the street, with automatic doors into the building.
  • An accessible bathroom with automatic doors and a DOC M shower setup.
  • An elevator with door safety sensors and a mirrored back.

We can also cover childcare costs, hire BSL interpreters, cater for your dietary needs and lots more. Just tell us what you need when you complete your application form.

If you have any questions or worries about accessing the training, our activist development team are here to help. Email actuk@greenpeace.org to get a quick answer or organise a chat.

Activists in yellow overalls look downstream as they pilot an inflatable boat along a river.
Activists hold up signs saying 'Save the Amazon' and 'Defend Indigenous rights'

What to expect

The two-day training will be a mix of theory and practice. You’ll learn from practical exercises, group discussion, action role-play and regular presentations.

  • Sessions will be led by our volunteer trainers and Greenpeace staff.
  • There’ll be about 35 participants in total.
  • You’ll need to bring an overnight bag including a towel, and warm clothes that you don’t mind getting dirty. You don’t need any special equipment for the training.
  • We’ll ask you to keep your phone stored away during the training, but you’ll still be able to access it if you need it.
  • Food will be provided and there’ll be plenty of breaks through the day. Snacks and drinks will be available throughout.
  • There’ll be some social time to get to know your fellow participants and the Greenpeace actions team.
  • There’ll be no pressure or obligation to sign up as an activist if you decide it isn’t right for you.

Although you won’t be tested or formally assessed as part of the training, we do occasionally say no to people we feel aren’t ready to be a Greenpeace activist.

After the training

You’ll be asked for feedback on the training afterwards. You’ll then have some time to consider whether being a Greenpeace activist is right for you. You can also have a followup call with our activist development team to discuss it if needed.

If you do decide to go ahead, you’ll be invited to join our activists network, and be connected with an experienced activist who will invite you to your first action.

An activist replaces the destination names on a road sign in Parliament Square with labels saying 'Green Recovery'
An activist speaks into a megaphone outside a Tesco store