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Democracy Matters Action Update August 2013

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It is easier to get stories into the media while politicians are away from Westminster. If you want journalists to find you, AskCharity is a free service to help journalists find case studies and information from non-profit organisations, who can also use it to build their media contacts and coverage: register here.

I am delighted to welcome several new volunteers who’ve joined us: our next volunteer meeting is on 9 September in central London.

In this month’s bulletin you will find news about:


IN MORE DETAIL:

Government Funding for Democratic Engagement
£4.2 million is available for organisations to maximise voter registration and get people involved in the democratic process as part of the Government’s Democratic Engagement Programme. The Cabinet Office will invite tenders for innovative projects to get everyone registered to vote, particularly young people, deprived areas and people in social housing: to register and get more information register with the Government procurement Service.  If you would like to work on a bid with Democracy Matters members, please get in touch: titus@democracymatters.info

Consultation on the new National Curriculum ends on 8 August
To get a stronger citizenship curriculum, please respond to the government consultation. You can download a response form from gov.uk, respond online or email the consultation team. The deadline is 8 August Find out more from the Citizenship Foundation.

Home Office consultation on Stop and Search
The Home Office consultation on Stop and Search seeks responses from young people who experience stop and search. It runs till 13th August and will inform future practice: details here – and pass it on.

Why bother about the European Elections on 22 May next year?
Over 40 people took part in a Democracy Matters Forum about the European elections next year, to take part in a lively discussion with Jean Lambert, Green MP for London, Gerard Batten UKIP MEP for London, Michael Sani, Bite the Ballot: inspiring young people to vote, Matthew Oliver on Vote Match Europe, Unlock Democracy (Vote Match UK), Millicent Scott, Education Projects Manager: The role of the information office of European Parliament and Titus Alexander.

The main points from the event were that 66% of British people could not name an EU institution & don’t know how it works, although there is lots of info available from EU websites, EU Parliament TV & education services see Education pages. The EU has a large influence on UK legislation, and our level MEPs can influence what happens by scrutinising or initiate policies. The British media do poor job of covering EU, but anyone can take part in free events at Europe House: sign up for the monthly events newsletter.

EU Vote Match  will enable people to see which candidate or Party position is closest to theirs.

League of Young Voters is promoting participation by young people.

Vote Watch EU provides detailed independent information on policies & voting in the EU Parliament and Council.

We encourage members to organise hosting’s & education events about the EU elections on 22nd May 2014.

There will be a follow-up Forum from  5 – 6.30 pm on 30th October 2013.

Steps to greater democracy in health?
Last month I took part in a one day discussion convened by NHS England about a “Civil Society Assembly” for health @nhschangeday.

This is the start of a process to increase people’s involvement in the NHS. It was followed by a “Call to Action “to have an “open and honest debate about the future shape of the NHS in order to meet rising demand” and £30bn funding gap projected for 2020.

To find out how you can get involved in the NHS see Get involved.

Mark Gamsu has an interesting blog on local democracy and health ,with a discussion of the role of volunteers and Health Champions.

For more on democracy and participation in the NHS, see the SHA website.

I am working with the David Stark Murray Trust on a project to see how existing structures can be used to strengthen democratic participation.

Unlock Lobbying
The Government has published its proposals for a register of lobbyists. Democracy Matters’ member Unlock Democracy is campaigning to make the bill stronger.

DEMOCRACY & THE CORPORATION: Forum on Economic Democracy & the Purpose of Companies
We are planning a forum on this topic for the autumn or new year: do get in touch if you would like to work on it.

Nominations for DSC Social Change Awards now open
Do you know any passionate individuals and effective organisations making a positive impact on society? Why not nominate them (or yourself) for this Award?

Nominations close Sunday 16 September 2013

Young people speak about poverty
A Series of Doors: young people talking about their experience of poverty is a report by Breslin Public Policy for the Office of the Children’s Commissioner.  Two core themes offered by the children and young people are:  a sense of vulnerability to events, and a sense of resilience in spite of complex misfortunes. Poverty is profoundly disempowering and to escape from poverty children want support at particular points in their life journey:

  • The transition points between schools and into further or higher education;
  • Transitions into training or employment; and
  • When there is a change in carer, leaving care or the youth justice System

Time to strengthen youth voices in politics
The “Series of Doors” report is a reminder that we need to hear young people’s views on all policies that affect them, and to enable young people take part in politics. See this great speech by James Evans on the case for Votes at 16 on YouTube Inspirational

Children’s Takeover Day – Friday 22 November 2013
Give children and young people a chance to work with adults for the day and be involved in decision-making. Children benefit from experiencing the world of work and making their voices heard, while adults gain a fresh perspective. Put your event on the map,  tweet about your #TakeoverDay and follow @ChildrensComm.

Locality annual convention in Leicester 12 -13 Nov 2013
#Locality13 is about “’building possibility:  Early bird booking is open for by 31 Aug for a discount. More details here.

Creating a buzz through community organising
Mark Parker is a community organiser in Southwark who writes a blog about community organising with great insight: read his latest post about how change happens in communities.

Women and Democracy: 15 – 23 Nov 2013:
What are you planning to do for Parliament Week?


Use our website:
Democracy Matters can support our members and people getting involved in politics in many ways:

  • Use the Democracy Diary to find opportunities to influence decisions and events by members, post your events at and subscribe to get events into your calendar.
  • Use the Democracy Café to share links, images, videos, and other rich content from the web, discuss issues and campaigns you are involved in.
  • Campaign Clinic lets you post questions about things you want to address, so that we can learn from each other.
  • Join the community to connect with people, use forums and strengthen democracy.

To search websites of over 30 national organisations, simply use “search our members’ websites” on the top right of the home page.


Please pass on this information to your networks, acknowledging Democracy Matters, and let me know what you’re doing.
Best wishes,


Titus Alexander
Convener,
Democracy Matters

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