Civic Activism Awards - Learning Support Part 1
Tim Hughes is Programme Manager at the Open Government Partnership.

Civic Activism Awards - Learning Support Part 1

05 August 2015

As part of our Civic Activism Awards, the Trust will be working with Involve and Democratic Society to deliver support to successful awardees. Here we catch up with Involve's Tim Hughes to find out more about it...

What type of work does your organisation do?

Involve and Demsoc are specialists in civic engagement, with over fifteen years of combined experience in supporting organisations to engage more fully with citizens. We seek to build a deeper, more participatory democracy, where citizens are able to influence the decisions that affect their lives.

What work will you be doing with the Building Change Trust?

Involve and Demsoc will be providing support to the Building Change Trust’s Civic Activism Programme. The Civic Activism Programme is supporting Northern Irish VCSE organisations to pilot civic activism tools  to involve citizens in decision-making processes. Involve and Demsoc will mentor the projects and help ensure that their learning is captured and shared. 

How do you feel this work will impact on groups in the Voluntary, Community and Social Enterprise Sector in Northern Ireland?

There are already some great examples of civic activism tools being used in Northern Ireland, the UK and around the World. The Civic Activism Programme will help to push that practice even further, learning from the best examples, and demonstrating what they can help to achieve for the VCSE and statutory sectors.

What are your thoughts on the health of Civic Activism in the UK? Are we engaged enough? Is the sector doing enough?

Many citizens are increasingly disillusioned with and disengaged from those who take decisions that affect their lives. Where they exist, too often opportunities to engage in decision making are uninviting and uninspiring. The VCSE sector has a unique role to play in amplifying the voices of citizens and holding government to account for its actions, and needs to challenge itself to engage ever more creatively with the public.

What other projects or initiatives across the UK and Ireland do you think are innovative and useful in this area?

The Civic Activism Toolkit has lots of examples of great initiatives using civic activism tools. For example, Ulster Wildlife has been using citizen science to collect information about local species, and engage the public in marine conservation. The County Down Rural Community Network took prospective councillors on bus tours to meet local community activists and experience projects in the area.

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