#AHPsDay: Social movement to network

Friday 25th June 2021 by @RachBrandreth

AHPsDay. A day of collective action to do something that is important and meaningful to you - celebrate, appreciate, inspire and connect.

Here Carrie Biddle (Co-founder) and I share what we have discovered about social movement lifecycles and consideration of the future of #AHPsDay.  

 We found the following models helpful to frame our lived experience and reflections on starting a social movement.

The agitation stage started on the bus. We believed that something needed to change. We wanted more people to understand who AHPs are and what we do. We were watching the positive impact of preparation for international nurses day and decided to pinch with pride and plan a collective day of celebration for AHPs locally. That prompted me to tweet Suzanne Rastrick (Chief AHP Officer England).

The ‘agitation’ was really frenetic on twitter. People bought into the concept very quickly, including some very talented ‘first-followers’ (Naomi Burden and Jo McNamara) and it moved from an idea into a diarised event. As in stage 2 of the simplified version of a social movement diagram, values started to become decentralised as more people felt something needed to change.

This is really happening
I attended my first CAHPO conference in July 2018.  The realisation of the real-life experience, not just the virtual world of twitter hit me.  Lots of people wanted to talk about AHPs Day. This blew my mind. Within just a few weeks AHPs Day moved quickly into the ‘legitimation’ phase.

Carrie and I held the role as spokespeople for the movement. This stage was very intense (mostly in a good way!). I was enjoying the ride and seeing the joy that we were helping people create. Having a common shared purpose and aligning actions planned to key principles empowered others to join in.

Principle 1: Own it - do something that is important and meaningful to you.
AHPs Day has been about coming together and collectively sharing a moment to appreciate who we are, celebrate what we do and in doing so increase the awareness of others of our roles, impact and value we add to the support those in our local communities.

Through crowdsourcing via twitter the golden threads of Celebrate, Appreciate and Inspire were born. In 2020, using a collaborative ‘check-in’, a fourth golden thread was added - Connect.

Principle 2: Be social – share ideas and what you create using #AHPsDay - together we are #strongertogether and collectively we achieve more.


We agreed from the start that this wasn’t something we wanted to curate centrally. It was and still is important to us that people are active in the process. By being active you own and take responsibility for what you create and share.  Jo McNamara created a website where people could share their resources and Naomi Burden created a logo that anyone could use.

As I have learnt more about social movements it turns out that this was a key factor to success. We encouraged people to share and be collaborative with what they created. It has to be social to be a social movement!

On reflection of the evolution of the movement over the past three years and a debrief on events from 2020, we recognise that AHPs Day has become part of ‘AHP society’ (stage 5). 

We believe that AHPs Day is transitioning from a social movement to a self-organised network. I believe this transition is a really positive step. I feel grateful to everyone involved with this process especially the incredible AHPs Day HQ crew from 2020 who met regularly in their own time as a community of interested AHPs to share and amplify ideas. This is the basis from which we are keen to build a wider network for greater engagement and participation.

From social movement to network

Social movement building is process-oriented, relational, and iterative.

  • Connecting to the mainstream. For any change to become truly revolutionary, it eventually has to be adopted by the mainstream.
  • Change can't happen in a vacuum. The change you seek will not happen inside the movement, but outside of it.
  • Connectivity is key to sustainability Successful movements don’t just convert, they connect driving lasting change.

So what’s next?
As a network with collective leadership, and open membership anyone can help increase the diversity of the thinking and idea sharing using the Future NHS Collaboratives platform.  

I am so proud of what we have achieved, particularly the joy that is evident on the day and that continues to resonate throughout the year. Bring on AHPs Day 2021! 


The (simplified) stages of a social movement available from https://medium.com/@sanft.jaime/what-technology-designers-can-learn-from-social-movements-18f3c06c3ba4

 Lifecycle of Social Movements by Holt McDougal available from: https://slideplayer.com/slide/1522571/

Header image - #AHPsday twitter participants bio's 


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