Hello Act Build Change Community!

Thank you subscribers, trainers, writers, donators and sharers. You mean a lot to us.

We have been on a journey this past year. Act Build Change is built by me Stephanie Leonard a community organiser from London and Ricky Wong a designer and developer from Newcastle. We built Act Build Change because too many people are locked out of learning how to make change happen in their communities.

What we didn’t expect was such a big response from so many of you around the globe wanting to get involved in the mission. We are connecting and learning to make our world better. Sometimes you write to us, we call each other up and put our heads together to solve important problems. Act Build Change is now my (Stephanie) full-time job. Holy moly that was unexpected.

5 of my biggest lessons this year


Be brave to push into the uncertain.

It takes a lot of courage to start something new. It is brave to walk away from environments that don’t support you and follow folks who give you the energy to thrive. Uncertainty is always here. The more we act despite uncertainty, the more familiar (not necessarily easier) it gets. There is no other way we can change the world. It feels scary and breathtakingly beautiful all in one gulp. If there is something you want to start, stop or return to – be courageous and give it a shot.


We have all we need in our communities.

Our communties have all we need to solve important problems and lead in our own lives. What is not immediately available, relationships and networks can provide. I believe most people want to share and help each other grow. There is enough for all of us if we were willing to share more than we take. Competition and secrecy corrupt the mind and stifles creativity. It will only slow us down in getting us to the world as it should be.


Create joyful learning spaces.

Act Build Change is committed to creating joyful learning spaces for us to change the world together. Too much of our work lacks empathy or laughter. Yes our work is hard and the wrongdoings are enormous – but there is also lightness and love in there too. We will not accept the best way to help others lead better lives is to shame them for their lack of knowledge, status or experience. I’ve seen it happen too often and Act Build Change will be continuously awake to not feeding into this practice.


You will fall on your arse…a lot.

When a baby is learning to walk we don’t shout and say “you’re crawling wrong!” So why do we do it to ourselves when we’re learning something new? To do something bigger than ourselves means accepting there will be a lot of “oops” moments. In each failing there are little lessons to learn.

Patience is easier said than done and I’ve not mastered it. I still try to rush and berate myself when I’m not at my best or if things don’t go to plan. But I am learning and trying to be kinder. And when I fall on my arse, I get back up again – which is all we can do.


It is only love that melts the hate away.

All of my work stems from love. Love of humanity and our potential to solve problems – to be and do better than yesterday. I want to learn to love better this year, to be less judgemental and more generous. Love and solidarity cannot be separated from each other – and we need collective solidarity if we are to create a world where everyone is important.

Three books that changed my life this year

  1. Teaching to Transgress, by bell hooks
  2. More Time to Think, by Nancy Kline
  3. A Burst of Light, by Audre Lorde

Special thanks

This feels a little Oscar prize without the Oscar – but it is important to remember who got you here.

Ricky Wong

First to Ricky Wong who makes me and Act Build Change better. He is a fantastic designer and developer. Without Ricky I would be looking like this every day of the week…

Paul Hamlyn Foundation

Thank you Paul Hamlyn Foundation who provided us with £15,5000 in seed funding to get started through the Ideas and Pioneers fund. A big thank you to Alex Sutton who encouraged us to give it a shot – you rock Alex! If you have an idea that could transform society apply now.

Social Change Initiative

If you haven’t heard of the Social Change Initiative well it is time you did. They are a small team in Belfast who are made up of some of the most radical, smart and hilarious people I know. My activism has grown tenfold with their guidance, networks and listening.

Grapevine Coventry and Warwickshire

Lastly, the incredible, super talented and ridiculously creative Grapevine Coventry and Warwickshire. Clare Wightman and Mel Smith thank you for making me a better organiser. We are learning together to build the biggest community-led movement in Coventry (maybe the UK) to tackle isolation. It is radical, brave and hard – and we are going to make some beautiful change happen, so watch this space.

Where are we going?

  1. This year we are going to focus our energies on building a team to better serve the growing members who reach out to us. I am feeling a little like an organising octopus at the moment and need some helping hands. The community will be the first to hear about it so keep your eyes peeled.

  2. Training is core to our work so we will be bringing new training this year. It is going to be interactive, entertaining and blooming excellent.

  3. Lastly, we built a community platform and then we got very busy organising with folks in Devon to build a new movement that wasn’t there before. This year we promise to give the community the time to grow and pack a powerful punch for online learning.

Want to work with us?

If you would like to contribute a post (we pay our writers) or have us come and deliver a training, shadow your organisers or mentor your activists get in touch at [email protected]

Thanks again for your support. It means the world.

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