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Organising a rally or march

A campaign rally or march can be an extremely powerful way of expressing public feeling on an issue.

Opportunities for rallies or marches may be presented by imminent decisions or votes on important issues, official/quasi-official visits or appearances by people at whom your campaign is aimed and anniversaries of particularly important or controversial decisions or developments.

It is only likely to be a useful campaign tool where:

  • Public opinion on an issue is so strong that a fairly good turnout can be guaranteed
  • It can be planned sufficiently far in advance to meet the legal requirements
  • It can be well publicised, promoted and managed on the day

Campaigning tips

If you do not have the resources to hold a full-scale demonstration or march, consider smaller-scale stunts.

These may still require police permission, but can be of great interest to the media and require less organisation.

Given the likely effort in planning an event, make sure you capitalise on opportunities to recruit new volunteers and get publicity for your work.

Remember to:

Contact your local police force as soon as possible if planning an open-air public gathering of any kind to avoid problems later.

Planning a rally or march

  • Consider carefully whom you are trying to reach
  • What you are trying to achieve
  • Who is going to do what
  • How it will be paid for

Good publicity is key

Use flyers, posters, word of mouth and the internet well in advance.

Large open-air demonstrations require permission from the police.

In planning such an event ensure that:

  • The police have been informed of the intended route of any march and that the route is acceptable to them
  • The route is visible to participants
  • All people attending the march are given notice of the arrangements and route
  • The march ends in a safe place for a public gathering
  • A suitable activity takes place at the end of the march - usually speakers
  • Stewards who know the proposed route are present in sufficient numbers to monitor the event
  • Stewards are known to you, identified easily by participants and the police, and briefed on what action to take if trouble occurs
  • Any potential trouble-makers are identified and stewards briefed to keep an eye on them to avert potential problems on the day

If you are campaigning as part of a charity, then your demonstrations, rallies and speeches where they are part of a wider campaign must comply with Charity Commission Guidelines on political activity.