Shelter wanted to investigate emergency housing.
The housing charity wanted to look into how long families were having to live in emergency bed and breakfast accommodation due to a lack of affordable housing. Some families were even being forced out of they towns and cities where they had settled, where they worked and where they went to school.
Shelter needed hard evidence. So it came to Request Initiative.
We used the Freedom of Information Act to survey every London council, collect the data and build a database.
The results were shocking. Some children, the data revealed, were now spending four hours a day commuting between their ‘home’ and their school.
The campaign led to the The Times and the BBC publishing stories highlighting how the government’s benefit cap is forcing families out of London and as far away as Devon and Manchester.
“Managing an FOI in-house can be very time consuming and Request Initiative took away a lot of the difficulties, at a very reasonable cost.
“Request Initiative was extremely helpful from the beginning of the process to the end and ultimately for us, enabled us to secure a successful national media story.”
Glen Tarman, an artist and activist, filed a series of well crafted requests to Tate art galleries to find out exactly how much the oil company BP had paid to daub its logo over our much loved public institution.
Tate stonewalled and behind the scenes BP prepared the whitewash. Glen began to lose faith in our Freedom of Information regime.
And then he was introduced to Request Initiative by the arts campaigners Platform London.
We filed fresh requests with new public interest arguments and secured pro bono support from our good friend Rosa Curling at Leigh Day solicitors and our favourite barrister, Julianne Morrison at Monckton Chambers.
Our hard work paid off.
In January 2015 the Information Tribunal ruled that Tate must disclose all sponsorship deals with BP between 1990 and 2006. £150,000 was paid by the oil giant in 1991 with the donation rising to £330,000 by 2006 – just 0.5 percent of the Tate’s overall budget.
The tribunal results were published on page 3 of the Guardian, on page 17 in the Independent and on the BBC’s website with special comment from the BBC’s arts and culture editor, Will Gompertz. The story also gained coverage from multiple arts and environmental publications, including Artnet, The Ecologist, RTCC, Art Newspaper, Art Professional, Artfix and Artlyst.
And then we won again – only this time even bigger. In July 2016 Tate was forced to reveal their sponsorship figures for 2007 to 2011.
The victory came in the wake of news BP was ending its sponsorship of the gallery.
Platform London secured wonderful, in depth newspaper coverage about oil’s funding of the arts in publications in Britain and across the rest of Europe.
Jane Trowell of Platform said: “This campaign is totally a game-changer, a history book moment.”
Liberate Tate’s Human Cost performance, 2011, credit Amy Scaife
Liberate Tate’s Hidden Figures performance, 2014, credit Martin LeSanto-Smith and Hugh Warwick respectively
Preth Rao knew in her heart that the government was failing to give people reaching the end of their lives the support they deserve and need.
As head of policy and campaigns at the charity Sue Ryder, she wanted to apply pressure to the government to make sure all the 211 independent Clinical Commissioning Groups across the country were meeting their obligations.
She wanted to get the facts before going to the press and taking her case to politicians.
But the task of securing answers to Freedom of Information requests from so many different groups across the country seemed impossible. She needed detail, and she needed it now.
By happenstance her colleague Lotte attended Brendan’s talk at the National Council for Voluntary Organisations, and so suggested she try Request Initiative.
We were delighted to work with such an experienced campaigner and on this important yet often neglected issue.
Samir Dathi, a solicitor, piloted our FOIA requests to ensure the public authorities would provide the necessary information on time. And we delivered an 85 percent success rate, exceeding everyone’s expectations.
Preth discovered that fewer than one in ten CCGs in Britain were providing the appropriate levels of care for people at the end of their life.
Only eight percent of CCGs in England provided comprehensive, 24/7 expert emotional support, practical advice and coordination in the form of a dedicated palliative helpline and coordination service for both dying people and their carers.
Preth launched Dying Doesn’t Work 9 to 5 based on our results and secured coverage from the Daily Mail and the BBC.
“We were delighted about how Request Initiative responded to our brief in a very short timescale. They were responsive, happy to meet, efficient, happy to chase respondents and incredibly price competitive,” she said.
“We got an 85 per cent response rate from Clinical Commissioning Groups within a month – which was much higher than we expected.”
John Sauven knows the first step in changing the world for the better is understanding exactly where we are today.
The Greenpeace director and his team are often keen to explore new ways to secure victory in their campaigns – always based on the best information on the ground.
The protection of our natural environment very much depends on the regulations and actions of governments around the world.
Greenpeace has always been fantastic at making the most of Britain’s transparency rights to establish the facts, interrogate and understand government thinking and leverage extensive media coverage.
And when they teamed up with Request Initiative their Freedom of Information campaigns went even further, even deeper.
Greenpeace activists journeyed to the freezing arctic waters of Alaska to protect our oceans and their diverse ecology from the drilling operations of oil giant Shell. They were jailed by the Russian authorities on trumped up charges of piracy on the high seas.
Sauven’s people know that holding the oil companies to account involves scaling oil rigs by day, and using our transparency rights through the night.
Request Initiative used international information legislation in the United States, Canada, Finland, Sweden and Norway. We obtained a 600 page US government report exposing Shell’s appalling safety violations in the Arctic.
Greenpeace had cause to celebrate when in 2014 Shell announced an end (at least for the time being) of its entire Arctic drilling operations. We were so elated to have played the smallest of parts in one of the biggest campaign victories.