Sep 23 2020 - Posted by Yvonne

The Democracy Box
Listen while you scroll.  ‘Link with my MP’ – pilot rap by Saskia Pay Young C0-Creator from phase 1

THE DEMOCRACY BOX 

#NoShameNoBlame #BeBraveBeBoldBeEducated

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?

What happens when you put young people front & centre of working that out?

You get:

The Democracy Box Podcast Series

The Democracy Box Rap Series4 raps commissioned by BBC Bitesize

The Democracy Box on social media Instagram (TikTok & YouTube to follow)

The Democracy Box Branding was all done by a young co-creator too!

The Democracy Box title and all associated content creation 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

 “Across the world young people are realising that democracies have failed them and future generations to come on issue like climate change, jobs and skills and wellbeing. Part of this problem may be that our education system does not provide enough support to young people to help them understand and engage with democratic systems or processes. The holistic nature of the new curriculum provides an opportunity to address this but teachers and learners must be supported to find creative ways to.  This programme is a way of doing exactly that”  Sophie Howe, Future Generations Commissioner for Wales

The cycle of poor shared storytelling.

Young people interviewed, surveyed, focus grouped and contracted as young co-creators with 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

 

The Democracy Box three prototypes

  1. THE DEMOCRACY BOX PUBLC INFORMATION FILMS & SO MUCH MORE MORE: A prototype of how to reach and share the basic story of our UK democracy that every citizen should know  with people, particularly young people and communities in the five lowest voter turn-out constituencies. Think old style Public Information Films containing rap, animation, podcasts, spoken word & rapid fire explainers broken up into different lengths and formats which sit on multiple media platforms from broadcast to social media and are ongoing and all year round .
  2. THE DEMOCRACY BOX CREATIVE CASCADE MODEL: How to teach and inspire the teachers/educators & therefore students in both primary & secondary schools using the young co-creator model.
  3. THE DEMOCRACY BOX MAP/SIGNPOSTER/HUB/ONE-STOP: A prototype of an interactive, innovative, enticing, user-friendly public facing one-stop shop/hub which signposts people to all the other areas of information including educational resources, citizens assemblies, getting involved in your local community & having your say all year round & election specific voter information including registering to vote & where & how to vote & how to decide who to vote for

 

Working with Young people as Co-Creators

At the core of this project are young people. Omidaze have now recruited 26 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.

Here’s Saynab one of the young co-creators in March 2020 talking about how many of the young people she surveyed didn’t know who their MP was and how she would begin to tell them how and why to contact their MP using TikTok.

 

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 councted (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.

Scroll down to the bottom of this page to find useful links to all our devolved parliaments and UK parliament and to existing useful content which explains our democratic system.

The Democracy Box Confirmed Collaborators so far are…

Sophie Howe, Future Generations Commissioner for Wales

The Electoral Commission

The Democractic Society 

The Senedd Cymru/ Welsh Parliament Engagement Team

Electoral Reform Society Cymru

Nesta’s YLab

The Politics Project

The Urdd

I Have A Voice

Laura McAllister Professor of Public Policy and the Governance of Wales at the Wales Governance Centre

Swansea Music Art Digital

Youth Cymru

Hub Cymru Africa

Sub-Sahara Advisory Panel SSAP

Newport Rising

The Democracy Box Clwstwr Co-Investigator is Richard Sambrook.

If you would like to collaborate on the project get in touch y.murphy1@ntlworld.com 

Useful Links to other organisations helping people to understand our UK democracy

Electoral Commission

Hwb 

Welsh Parliament

Write To Them

They Work For You

My Society

British Youth Council

Shout Out

The Democracy Club

Simple Politics

 

Illustrations by  Maria Elorza Saralegui & Vicky Yang

Links to websites for our democratic institutions

Welsh Parliament 

UK Parliament 

Scottish Parliament

Northern Ireland Parliament

 

More Useful Links to Content which explains our Democratic System

How to Contact Your MP

Westminster Resource Introduction to Parliament

How Parliament Works in nearly 60 seconds

Who’s in charge of Britain Horrible Histories

An Introduction to Parliament (Primary)

Houses of History – Explore the story of Parliament and democracy Westminster Resource

What is Proportional Representation 

What is the House of Commons? 

UK Parliament Watch & Listen This is a great Westminster resource which explains just about everything to do with UK Westminster Parliament

Welsh Parliament -Who we are and what we do 

How your vote works in Wales 

Democracy in the UK today University of Leeds

What is democracy? – with Danny Wallace Westminster Resource

How do Laws get passed in the UK 

Proportional Representation vs 1st past the post

Overview of the UK system of government

Britain’s political system explained

A brief history of representation, from monarchy to democracy

Elections and voting explained (primary) Westminster Resource

The Difference between the United Kingdom, Great Britain and England 

How do laws get passed by parliament?