Action Learning Associates contribution to changing the world

Action Learning Associates is proud to support a number of organisations and charities in the work they do.

We offer pro bono action learning sets for people who understand that the climate and ecological emergencies are the great challenges of our time. We provide pro bono facilitator training for social and racial justice activists, and we support charities working in the Global South and with refugees in Europe and the Middle East and prisoners in Kenya and Uganda.

Pro bono work to respond to the Climate and Ecological Emergency

Four of our associates are currently facilitating action learning sets focused on creating effective responses to the Climate and Ecological Emergency (CEE hereafter).

Four of these sets are for people who realise that, whether their organisations are in the business of protecting the environment (sustainable energy, CEE research, local government) or exist for something else entirely (TV, an art gallery, advertising), they simply must pay attention to the imminent extinction of so many species, the imbalance in the natural world, and the human suffering that is already taking place on a massive scale in the Global South.

Membership of these sets rests on each person having the power, or agency, to implement their action plans.

Set participants, some of whom attend anonymously, might work on influencing ministers, responding well to the multiple declared city and county Climate Emergencies, designing impact measures, taking their workforce on the necessary journey, or work with commercial clients to promote awareness of their own contribution to the carbon overload.

Here is what one set member says:

The Climate Action Learning Set has provided me with a safe and supportive space where I can voice my issues and get guidance from fellow members. The combination of clarifying and open questions helps me to understand what is at the heart of my concerns and to articulate steps that I can take to resolve those.

Having that space to think more strategically – outside of the normal work environment – has boosted my confidence and sharpened my attention to what I need to focus on. I have also really enjoyed getting to know the other members of the Set, who come from different areas, but all share a sense of compassion and common purpose in protecting our planet.”

The other two sets are new this year, and designed to support a range of people who are themselves fluent in the reality of the CEE, but who have found it challenging to connect with friends, family, neighbours and workmates about the need for us all to require our leaders to tell the truth about what is happening, and to create a plan to respond far better than they are currently.

We invite them not to expend energy on climate change deniers, now fewer than 30% of the UK population, and lower still amongst people under 50: rather to connect with people who more or less accept the science but don’t see that they can or should influence those who have the power to bring change.

The sets are lively and rewarding to participate in, and to run. Facilitation is pro bono.

We are always recruiting to expand our work and reach in this extremely important area: if you would like to run or join a set, contact Di on

If you have agency to bring about CEE related change at work, as a trustee or in your community, please also contact Di: she will be pleased to offer a conversation as a first step. If you have clients you think would be interested in either kind of set, ask them to email Di Bligh.

Training social and racial justice activists

During 2019 and 2020, ALA trained four cohorts of activists to become action learning facilitators, charging only for the programme workbook and ILM accreditation where participants wished to be accredited. The aim was that the 20 activists would then go on to provide action learning in their own activist networks.

Most people came via NEON – the New Economy Organisers’ Network, originally an offshoot of the New Economy Foundation, now an independent organisation.

We are currently recruiting for a late spring programme, please contact if you are interested or know someone who might be.

Our chosen charities

Help Refugees Jordan

In lieu of Christmas cards in 2020, and with a monthly donation, we are pleased to support Help Refugees Jordan (HRJ) in their work with Syrian refugees, many of them children. HRJ has a partnership with The Mandala Trust and supports two schools in Jordan, a country which has generously welcomed refugees since 1947.  It currently has insufficient school places for the many children fleeing the civil war in Syria, and during Covid is also feeding families who are not in camps.

From January 2021 we are sponsoring the Mandala Trust, offering a monthly donation and help in kind. You can read more about our support for their work in our Christmas 2020 message.


In December 2019, Ruth Cook spent Christmas as a volunteer for FoodKIND with refugees in mainland Greece. It was a rewarding experience, cooking and serving food to refugees who would not otherwise have a daily nutritious meal.

Inevitably, because of pandemic restrictions, and at a time when needs have intensified, travel bans prevented Ruth from revisiting the camp in Malakasa, near Athens, to offer her support again over Christmas 2020. Instead, we shared their appeal for volunteers and fundraisers through our social media channels, website and customer newsletter.

We continue our regular monthly donations to support this important, life-saving work.

More details of FoodKIND and its work can be found here.

Justice Defenders

Formerly known as The African Prison’s Project, this charity performs valuable work bringing together prisoners, prison staff, lawyers and judges to tackle injustice and promote penal reform. They do exciting work to train prisoners to become lawyers and paralegals so that they can represent their fellow prisoners. We have supported them via monthly donations for many years, and worked with their CEO in one of our action learning facilitated sets. 

For several years we supported their secondment programme for African Prison Officers by providing reflective listening sessions when they visited the UK; the officers reported that the active listening, open questioning and feedback techniques they developed through action learning would be invaluable in relating to both prison staff and prisoners back home. You can read more about this project here.