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Friday 1 Nov to Sunday 3 Nov 2024

 Crianlarich Youth Hostel

Station Road, Crianlarich FK20 8QN


PEN Residential Weekend 2024


Following on from last year's successful 'Ideas to Change the World' residential, we have more workshops planned to help activists and organisers situate their own work within the wider struggle that we all are facing together. 

This year's weekend is structured around the topic "Whose Democracy Is It Anyway?". 

The weekend will kick off on Friday evening with a warm-up session to get us all thinking about the role democracy plays in our own lives, with the main sessions throughout Saturday giving us the chance to explore both the practical and theoretical questions surrounding 'democracy'. 

As in previous years, bed and board will be provided in the cost of the weekend. The event will take place in the village of Crianlarich, with accommodation in shared rooms in single-sex dormitories. A variety of different payment options will be offered, based on a 'pay-what-you-can' principle.

Given that 2024 sees over half the world goes to the polls -- and with the US presidential election taking place the following week -- there cannot be a better opportunity to spend time with other like-minded activists to discuss these and other related questions.


Come join us!

Crianlarich Youth Hostel

Set amidst stunning mountains, at the halfway point on the West Highland Way, Crianlarich Youth Hostel is the perfect base for anyone seeking an escape from the city.

The hostel is barrier-free, has a well-equipped kitchen, a sizeable dinning room and lounge area, free WiFi, with 14 dormitories sleeping a total of 58 people, with a mixture of ensuite and shared toilet and shower facilities.

The hostel is located in the quiet village of Crianlarich, which has a hotel and bar, village shop and tea room. 

What Should I Pay?

The cost of the weekend includes optional travel to and from Glasgow to Crianlarich (by minibus), full board and all meals for the weekend. 

PEN Scotland does not think cost should be a barrier to anyone participating in our events. While we make every effort to make our events free, our weekend school cannot take place without some costs involved. 

Please contact us at if you wish to discuss payment options (including paying by installments) or just to know more about what our residential weekends are like

In order to make our events as accessible as possible, please decide to pay what you think you can reasonably afford.

We would encourage any salaried, full-time workers to consider paying 'rate 1'. The more people who are able to pay this rate, the greater number of subsidised places we can offer.

Subscribe to our mailing list before 16 June and get our 'Early Bird' discounted tickets at only £65.00!

Tickets on sale from 16 June 2024 via Eventbrite!

Rate One


Rate Two


Rate Three 

Free / Donation

If you wish to attend the weekend at discounted rates 2 or 3, please email in the first instance to reserve your place. Otherwise, please use the Eventbrite page to register and purchase your ticket.

More about the weekend...

Over the course of the weekend, we will explore different themes and ideas related to democracy using popular education methods. Guest speakers and expert workshop organisers will lead the sessions we have planned. 

Please check here regularly for any updates or changes to the schedule prior to the event.

Weekend Schedule

Friday 1 November


Session One: 20.00—21.30hrs 

Stories about Democracy

Workshop Lead(s): TBC

A warm-up game to get us thinking creatively about democracy, what it means to us and the role it plays in our movement.

Saturday 2 November


Session Two: 09.15—10.45hrs 

Is Participatory Democracy a Threat to Democracy?

Workshop Lead(s): TBC

Which models of democracy should socialists emulate given the constraints of capitalist, liberal democracy? Is majoritarianism all bad? Does particpatory democracy really provide the answers to our current crisis, or do there also exist dangers in assuming 'the people' can always be trusted? Followed by a tea and coffee break.

Session Three: 11.15—12.45hrs 

Will liberal democracy survive the 2020s?

Workshop Lead(s): TBC

What should the Left’s response be to threats of democracy? Militantly opposing those who fail to defend democratic principles? Focus on promoting democratic procedures, regardless of the consequences? Or adopt an integrationist approach and focus more on social policies aimed at ‘community-building’? This session will give us the chance to talk about the more formal aspects of democracy (elections), to explore what the threats to democracy might be and if we can agree if there can be a Leftist response to these threats. 

Lunch: 12.45-14.00

Session Four: 14.00—15.30hrs 

Stop the Press!

Workshop Lead(s): TBC

Social media has democratised news and opinion, with an overwhelming amount of information now accessible in seconds through our phones. We should be the most informed generation which has ever lived, yet most of us feel bombarded by news and unsure about what information we can trust. The proliferation of ‘fake news’, ‘disinformation’, ‘misinformation’ and conspiracy theories also pose a challenge for the left. How do we respond to far-right conspiracies? How do we challenge fake news, and those who accept such ideas as ‘fact’?

Followed by a tea and coffee break.


Session Five: 16.00—17.30hrs 

The Democratic Self

Workshop Lead(s): TBC

How can you devolve /horizontalize power in your own life? How do we live up to democratic ideals in our activism? Is it possible for us to draw up our own guidelines for embedding democratic practice in our own lives? This session will reflect on the “the sharing of experience through participation in communication” and ask us all to think about our own 'democratic self' through a series of self-reflection exercises.


Dinner: 19.30-20.30

Sunday 3 November


Breakfast: 08.30-10.00

Session Six: 10.00—11.00hrs 

Sharing our Learning

Workshop Lead(s): TBC

A collaborative session where we reflect on what we have learnt over the weekend, create feedback on how well the weekend went, and think about how our learning can positively impact our own politics and activism. 

Getting to and from Crianlarich...

Included in the ticket price is the cost of transport both to and from ​Glasgow.

A combination of cars and a minibus will be available for anyone wishing to make use of the collective transport arrangements in place. 

The collection / drop-off point will be George Square in Glasgow. We will leave Glasgow at 5pm on Friday 1 November, and return at approximately 1.30pm on Sunday 3 November.


As much as possible, we encourage the use of car-sharing. If you do wish to take your own car to the weekend, please consider offering a lift to other participants and let us know by emailing us at

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