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Democracy Matters Action Update Nov-Dec 2013

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Democracy Matters campaigns for courses in advocacy, campaigning and influencing skills to be as widely available as for business, law or literacy.

You can help by spreading the word about the following:


Follow-up Parliament Week

The UK Youth Parliament annual House of Commons debate voted to campaign for votes for 16 and 17 year olds in all public elections. Next Steps from Parliament Week offers useful guides to campaigning and campaigning online. To get information on what’s happening in parliament, sign up here.

Learning from our mistakes: 23 Jan 2014

Dr John Parkinson Associate Professor of Public Policy, Warwick University, will introduce case studies of campaigns that were counter-productive or failed, and what we can learn from them, from 5.30 – 7.30pm on Thursday 23 January at the Institute of Education, 20 Bedford Way, London.

This is part of a series of events on the case for learning practical politics organised by Democracy Matters and the International Centre for Education & Democratic Citizenship (ICEDC). Places are free but please book in advance at Learning Practical Politics.

Lobbying bill unites campaigning charities

The Government has briefly paused the Lobbying Bill in response to an unlikely coalition including the Countryside Alliance, Lancashire Badger Trust, Tax Payers’ Alliance, National Secular Society, Christian Institute, NCVO, Friends of the Earth and Democracy Matters. The campaign has set up a Commission on Civil Society and Democratic Engagement to investigate the impact of the proposed legislation following independent legal opinion that it will have a ‘chilling effect’ on charities ahead of general elections. The Commission will take evidence from across the UK at meetings in Belfast and London on 25 Nov, Edinburgh on 26 Nov and Wales on 27 Nov. The first report had a clear impact on the progress of the Bill. Contact Bryony ( 07865495440 to attend and cascade this information to interested parties.

38 Degrees have produced a five minute video explaining the Bill at: and a petition to the Minister responsible, Chloe Smith.

International People Power Competition

Feedback Labs and Ashoka Changemakers are seeking innovative feedback loops to empower people, drive better decisions, and put resources where they’ll make a difference.

See more at: Changemakers. Entries must be received by December 18. Enter before 27 November to be eligible to win one of two cash prizes of US $500. Winners get access to a funding pool of $10,000, consultation from Feedback Labs and opportunities to showcase your work among leading foundations and US government agencies with the capacity to adopt or improve your ideas. Connect on Facebook and track #closetheloop and @feedbacklabs on Twitter for the latest news

Future Europe Event

On the 7th Dec Demsoc are holding an event for people aged 18 to 30 about Europe and how to solve problems facing the EU, at the Westminster Hub, SW1Y 4TE – To attend you can register here. For enquiries get in touch.

International Human Rights Day 10th December curriculum competition

Teach It Citizenship are running a competition for classroom materials which get students thinking critically about rights. A resource can be a one-page worksheet, a PowerPoint game or quiz, a complete lesson. The prize is a year’s free ACT membership, including the journal Teaching Citizenship; discounts on conferences, workshops and events; a year’s free subscription to Teachit Citizenship, with access to all our existing resources and Hugh Starkey’s book Teachers and Human Rights Education.

The deadline for entries is Sunday 5 January 2014.

To find out how to enter, please visit ACT’s competition page.

Amnesty Youth Awards

Amnesty are running five national competitions for young people aged 7 – 21  looking for the best Reporter, Songwriter, Photographer, Fundraiser, and Campaigner. Competition deadline: 17/02/14 For details go to Amnesty Youth Awards

NHS Civil Society Assembly

NHS England is investing a lot of money on a “Citizens Assembly” to hold it to account and “put people at the heart of everything the NHS does” in the words of Board member Tim Kelsey. There is an NHS Citizen website with an overview of the concept and debate about the details, including a couple of blogs by me on empowering the assembly and some wider reflections. There is also a scenario of “Occupy the NHS Now!”

You can take part in this important debate through the NHS Citizen website or the many NHS blogs, Our NHS, The National Health Action Party or the many official structures for participation: see Transforming Participation in Health and Care (for background see here).

The NHS is a vast and important area where effective citizenship education and support can make a difference.

BBC Radio 4 recently broadcast a programme on the effect of commissioning on services, A Healthy Market? – worth listening to.

Magna Carta Anniversary

Several Democracy Matters members are planning activities to mark the 800th anniversary of the sealing of the Magna Carta in June 2015, including Unlock Democracy and branches of the WEA. The Magna Carta Trust also has an ambitious programme of activities.

Influencing Local Government

Campaign Central’s know-how section resources on many topics, including a guide to influencing local government. More resources are also available at the Democracy Matters toolkit

Courses in Campaigning and Practical Politics

We like to promote courses in campaigning to empower people to make a difference, so do spread the word about the following:

SMK runs excellent introductory campaign workshops to equip people with the skills to bring about change at a local or national level:

Derby: Friday 6th December 2013:

Harmit Kambo and Nigel Mills, Conservative MP for Amber Valley, Natascha Engel, Labour MP for North East Derbyshire and Pauline Latham, MP for Mid-Derbyshire Run with Community Action Derby

London: Thursday 12th December 2013 :

(half day workshop): Harmit Kambo

York: Friday 24th January 2014:

Harmit Kambo, MP and journalist speaker TBC. Run in partnership with York CVS

Regular two and six day training courses. Dates can be found on their pages.

Queen Mary, University of London also run short courses in Community Organising, on Thursday evenings at 5-8pm. For more information, please contact Amy Tan or Prof Jane Wills.

Free Parliamentary training is available to people wanting to know more about the UK Parliament and how they can get involved with the House of Commons and House of Lords. Training sessions are organised by the Parliamentary Outreach team and are strictly non-partisan.

If your organisation is interested in free Parliamentary training, contact: Parliamentary Outreach, Tel: 020 7219 1650 E-mail:

Please say where you are, name of organisation and what you want.

NCVCO’s Certificate in Campaigning is already fully booked this year. To express interest in the next series of the Certificate in Campaigning please email the Training team.

Skills and techniques in advocacy and campaigning from an international perspective:

Advocacy Essentials 29 January 2014 · 1 day course

UK corridors of power 17 – 18 March 2014 · 2 day course

If a course you want is not scheduled, contact Bond  to find out more.


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

Best wishes,

Titus Alexander

Democracy Matters

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