About the UK pro-European Network - UKPEN
(you can say “Uck-pen” or “You Kay Pen” it’s up to you.)
UKPEN is a network that already exists – the network of all the local pro-European grassroot groups in the United Kingdom. But it is also a project: to enable that network to function more effectively, and to grow into something much bigger.
UKPEN began in December 2016 as a collection of websites locating and documenting the growing number of grassroots groups engaged in the fight for Europe. From the summer of 2018 that remit has grown to live up to the name. UKPEN currently provides close networking support for over 200 independent groups across the UK through digital and traditional means.
UKPEN began with maps.
Political parties have access to the electoral register and can map their support to the individual doorstep. UKPEN was based on the realisation that groups campaigning to remain in the EU would sooner or later need similar resources, and would probably need to develop them themselves without access to the electoral register. Work initiated by “Vote for Europe” to help campaign in by-elections was disappearing in Facebook, so UKPEN was at first a constituency by constituency record of those maps that had been used in the heat of campaigning.
Second came the nationwide constituency-based network of Facebook groups created by Nigel Grey: “The 48% – [Name of constituency]”, which he listed in Index groups, region by region. Where were these constituencies? Which existing pro-European groups could they turn to for guidance and support? UKPEN saw the need to relate the constituencies to areas and official regions of the UK both to answer these questions and to answer the other question which was cropping up: “Where is my nearest group?”
Next came a snap General Election which highlighted the way that constituency pages could become a useful place to pool knowledge and views about individual MPs.
Today the network has drastically expanded its role. The existing vocation of putting every group on the map and providing a template for constituency resources remains intact with us developing new webtools to assist with it. However we now take on the responsibility of a true network providing additional tools and resources and a more sophisticated networking environment between groups and potential partners.
Having the whole network of groups in one place is important. Despite the People’s Vote campaign marking a great step forward in coherence, there are still and will always be groups that are on the outside, away from the direct influence of the main national organisations. Bringing information about all those groups and their reach into one place means there is a hope of coherent cooperation between disparate bodies. That is UKPEN’s mission.
WHO ARE WE NOW
2018 saw the birth of many new pro-European organisations on mainland Europe. These organisations are a valuable resource but are disconnected from the anti-Brexit cause. This is why the network also takes on the role of connecting international groups and organisations together with British ones to help coordinate efforts better and more effectively.
UKPEN will do all this by offering local organisations the opportunity to link themselves to the United Kingdom Pro-European Network. Being linked to UKPEN will provide access to our support networks and other sources of support from across Europe from organisations like for example Alliance4Europe. The partnerships forged by UKPEN and its European Affiliates can help local groups in the UK with:-
- Access to greater mainstream and social media output
- Networking with EU institutions and European-based NGOs.
- Access to a coordinated strategy
- complementing the People’s Vote strategy
- Including strategies to fill in the gaps where there is no coverage
- Access to common campaigns and resources…
UKPEN supports the People’s Vote: the campaign to obtain it, and more especially the future campaign to win it.
WHAT UKPEN IS NOT
- UKPEN is not a rival organisation to the large national campaign groups like European Movement, Open Britain and Britain for Europe. UKPEN is a supplementary organisation that provides services that are not fully covered by the national campaign groups.
- UKPEN linkage does not affect the affiliation of local groups, UKPEN is a network aimed at bringing together local groups to help provide them with support in areas not yet covered.
- UKPEN does not have any of its own ‘branches’ or ‘chapters’, its linked groups are free-standing organisations and UKPEN cannot dictate any actions that its members must take.