The Four Step Programme of engagement
For many, all that’s needed to make poor civic engagement a thing of the past is making politics simple, breaking it down into issues, and most importantly, offering them the space to share potential solutions.
Although it can sound scary when we speak of empowering citizens (some may have visions of riots and revolutions), for us empowerment means collective responsibility, that comes from the knowledge and ability to shape the communities we live in.
Since 2010 we have developed our Theory of Change and summarised it in a four-step programme of engagement that aims to create and develop active citizens
Learning resources that engage, provoke and inspire
OPINION FORMING, SHARING & COMPARING
Enabling the community to gather insight into the issues they care about and how they compare to others
Creating a safe space to discuss/debate with others and encouraging active citizenship
For changes to policy, legislation and manifesto writing to represent a more inclusive society
In the 17th century, coffee shops were hubs for the local community where people would come together and discuss matters of interest and concern while enjoying a cup of coffee.
DeCafe (Democracy Cafe) is our reinvigoration of this lost tradition. We work with local partners to reach diverse communities and create a safe space for meaningful engagement. Our trained facilitators gather people around tables and host sessions on particular issues, guiding the discussions and in many cases, making people feel political for the very first time.
If we want real, long-term solutions to the issues we face in society, it is important to tackle them at their root cause - through the parliamentary system and changes to laws. We facilitate changemaking through our work as the secretariat of the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Democratic Participation, which has a co-chair from each elected major political party that participates in Westminster. So our APPG is party neutral - just like us.
This is a space for stakeholders to come together, present and discuss key topics or case studies, to give evidence and ultimately explore policy-based solutions that will evolve the levels of civic and community engagement.
We know that one of the biggest barriers to civic engagement is a lack of knowledge, which can often make politics seem boring, inaccessible and daunting.
That’s why we created The Basics, our experiential learning workshop that acts as a fun introduction to the world of politics. The Basics helps to create a safe space to share opinions, to challenge misconceptions and to feel empathy for others. We’ve played The Basics in schools and community groups across the country and internationally for years, empowering tens of thousands of people to register to vote — this is a decision they make actively, after playing The Basics and understanding the benefits of being registered to vote and the power they have as an engaged demographic.
We created Verto to give political engagement a digital twist. Verto is an interactive platform that plays short and informative video articles to educate, provoke and inspire awareness on social issues. Weaved throughout the videos are thought-provoking questions that encourage players to share their opinions.
Our goal with Verto is to build trust and authenticity with the digital generation, collating their views and opinions across a variety of topics. Once players have finished playing Verto, they can then see how their views compare to others. We compile the data to create briefs for parliamentarians and decision makers. This is our digital democracy case study that aims to use data to change public policy and influence manifestos.
In 2016, we co-authored the Missing Millions report, since its launch and through the collective advocacy of the APPG’s network, we have influenced three changes in public policy:
1. The Government included a condition to the Higher Education and Research Act 2017, enabling students to register to vote at the point of enrolment to uni. Recommendation #3
2. The Government rolled out National Democracy Week. Recommendation #10
3. We advocated for a provision in the National Citizen Service Bill 201. Recommendation #15
4. The GLA also recently issued a tender to introduce political literacy resources in to schools, referring to the Missing Millions report as one of the reasons why political literacy in schools is essential. Recommendation #15
Chris Skidmore MP, the former Minister for the Constitution, noted that “ The Missing Millions report will go down in history as helping to evolve the UK’s electoral registration system.”