What is The Democracy Box?

The Democracy Box is a non-partisan research and development project funded by Clwstwr. & came about because of Omidaze’s 2019 pilot Talking Shop.

It’s not about party politics.

It is about how we make sure EVERYONE understands the basics of our UK democracy.

It’s about how young people can creatively inform & engage ALL generations in our UK democracy

The Democracy Box Challenge Question

How do we make the simplest and stickiest Public & Education Information campaigns to share the basic level information to the largest number of people possible across multiple media platforms and create the foundation for voter and election related information all year round?

The Democracy Box Signposting / Navigational Hub Prototype

This is The Talking Shop which was piloted in 2019 in Cardiff and is due to reopen in early 2022. Omidaze is part of the first Cares Family Multiplier Programme and have been awarded a small grant towards reopening & developing The Talking Shop in early 2022 and we are seeking partners and funding to keep the shop open long enough to create a blueprint so the Talking Shop can be replicated across Wales and eventually the UK.

Please get in touch if you would like to collaborate, partner or help fund this strand of work.

Omidaze is also exploring a Democracy Box Music Festival with Youth Cymru, young people & RecRock which will be trialled in 2022.

The Democracy Box© and The Talking Shop© and all associated content is copyright Yvonne Murphy/Omidaze Productions 2020.

What is needed and why?

Many Welsh and UK citizens, including teachers and educators do not have a sound basic understanding of the UK democracy and how local, devolved and Westminster Governments all fit together and why.

There should be No Shame & No Blame in not knowing this stuff.

A better understanding of the UK democratic systems and structures by a wider percentage of the population is required.

Omidaze have created The Story of our UK Democracy in 7 short chapters and we are using this to work with young co-creators aged 16-26 from across Wales to work out ways to make sure EVERYONE understands the basics of our UK Democracy.

Listen to The Democracy Box Podcast.

The cycle of poor shared storytelling.

All the young people interviewed, surveyed, focus grouped and contracted as young co-creators were all, without exception, keen to understand our democracy and frustrated that they didn’t.

"Why weren’t we taught this at school?" was the constant refrain.

There is a shame accompanying not knowing this stuff which moves with us through into adulthood and gets harder and harder to admit to.

We need 'NoShameNoBlame' surrounding our UK democracy story as two of the young co-creators from phase one titled their initial podcast idea.

If you are a teacher it is hard enough to stand in front of a class and teach your own subject. To teach something you do not understand yourself and to do it creatively and thereby engage and inspire young people is a tall order. Teachers may sidestep it all together or resort to the passive practice of putting on a video or handing out a workbook resulting in low level or zero understanding and engagement. The cycle of poor story sharing thereby continues and low democratic engagement and participation with it.

The Democracy Box aims to work out:

  • How to tell and share our story with as many people as possible
  • How to help teachers in primary & secondary schools share the basic information/story of our UK democracy and make all young people co-creators
  • Help work out how to signpost people to all the other information they then need

Working with young people as co-creators

At the core of this project are young people. Omidaze have now recruited over 30 young co-creators aged 16-30 from across Wales, including those from the five lowest voter turnout constituencies and we are paying them to be content creators.

Omidaze are also holding focus groups with young people, creative degree students and professional creatives from across Wales to create and test the prototypes.

As one young co-creator said "We need to Be Brave. Be Bold. Be Educated."

Watch the Ten young people aged 16-30 feedback film who were involved in phase one.

"..when I first joined the “Democracy Box’ I really didn’t know anything, in fact, I didn’t even know that Britain was a democratic country… I honestly believe that we need more black and more female representatives within the world of democracy to convince and allow young people to meet people they have more comfort in trusting and listening to." Saynab Isman (17) Young Co-Creator

By knowledge of our democracy we do not mean party politics

Although the need for neutral factual information about the main political parties which is not linked to election campaigning came up regularly.

We mean informing and educating people about the neutral nuts and bolts. The difference between local government, devolved and Westminster. The difference between the First Minister and the Prime Minister and between an MS , MP and a councillor and what they are each responsible for. Understanding how our votes are counted (First Past the Post vs Proportional Representation) and what a constituency is and what things are devolved in Wales and how laws are made and by whom and what our taxes pay for and who decides and what even the word democracy itself means and how we can get involved and have our say all year round and not just on election days.

We’ve broken down the information citizens want and need into four levels based on what people have told us they want and need. The Democracy Box prime focus is Level 1 and how to get that basic information to the largest number of people possible on an ongoing year round basis to create the foundation for all the other areas of levels of information.

The Four Levels of Democratic Information

Illustration Maria Elorza Four Levels Copyright Yvonne Murphy Omidaze Productions 2020

There are many people working hard on voter information and political education in Wales & the UK.

Omidaze are collaborating with many of them. (link to Collaborator tab) to make prototypes of simple basic information campaigns created by young people to explain the fundamental knowledge blocks of our UK democracy. The basics that every citizen should know. Non-election all year-round information.

Together with collaborators, creatives and those disengaged young people from those lowest voter turn-out constituencies we are trying to work out how to make the simplest and ‘stickiest’ Public Information Campaign and Educational Information Campaign possible to share the basic level information to the largest number of people possible on an ongoing year round basis and create the foundation for all the other voter and election related information.

The Democracy Box focus is Level 1. The Basics and Foundations that every UK citizen should know.

Leading up to the first election in Wales where 16 year olds could vote for the first time, there was fast and furious work done by many organisations including the Electoral Commission, the Welsh Government, the Welsh Parliament, the Electoral Reform Society, educators across Wales and many more with More content, resources & teacher/educator guides and packs created.

Here’s young co-creator Saynab (link to TikTok video) from phase 1 talking to how many young people she surveyed know who their MP and how she would begin to tell them how and why to contact their MP.

What happens next?

Ultimately Omidaze believe this Basic Information and the dissemination of it is the responsibility of the state. We have the platforms to disseminate it in the shape of our state education system and our state funded broadcasters who have it written into their charters and purposes. It needs to be funded by the state and be independent and non-partisan and it needs to have young people aged 16-30 at the very heart of its creation and curation.

What happens next is yet to be written.

If you would like to collaborate on this project, have a conversation or have any information you would like to share please email Yvonne at y.murphy1@ntlworld.com.

You can read the proof of concept and report from phase one here.