Chloe Smith: Our chance to champion UK democracy
From the ‘Women in Politics Hackathon’ to a new youth ambassadors scheme, this week’s activities will be a chance to celebrate our thriving democracy, writes Chloe Smith
The Prime Minister recently endorsed National Democracy Week to the House, saying it “gives us the opportunity to look back and see how far we have come as a flourishing democracy, but also to champion and encourage greater democratic participation across the country”.
National Democracy Week kicks off for the first time this week, running from 2-8th July. A series of nationwide events have been organised by charities and community groups across the country, aimed at inspiring people of all ages and backgrounds to engage in democracy.
The start of the week also marks the 90th anniversary of women winning the equal right to vote and we will be celebrating this historic constitutional milestone at the first ever National Democracy Week Awards. Quite significantly, the Awards will be announced at the People’s Museum in Manchester – the birthplace of Emmeline Pankhurst.
There, we will celebrate the outstanding individuals and organisations that have taken steps towards increasing democratic engagement amongst their peers and communities in the UK. The awards are a great opportunity to highlight the work and achievements of so many people in this field, who go often without reward.
It is only the first major event in this week-long festival of democracy. Events have been confirmed across the UK. Shout Out UK will be hosting a ‘Women in Politics Hackathon’ in Parliament and UpRising, the British Red Cross and the Refugee Council holding ‘Our Voice’, a youth-led event in Birmingham and Bedford.
We want parliamentarians to get involved too. Using the Youth Engagement Toolkit we launched earlier this year, I am encouraging colleagues to use the pack in constituency events – it contains a range of activities to teach young people about our democracy in fun and engaging ways.
The Cabinet Office will also be launching a Democracy Ambassadors scheme to equip young people, aged 13-16, with the skills to reach out to their peers and engage them in democracy. Pilot sessions for this programme will be run during National Democracy Week, ahead of the programme roll-out later in the summer.
Please encourage your young constituents to apply to this scheme, which will not only improve their knowledge of democracy but also develop their presentation and communication skills.
Join the discussion using #NDW18 #TalkDemocracy. Sign up for an event, advertise yours or download the toolkit for parliamentarians at https://democracyweek.campaign.gov.uk/
Chloe Smith is Conservative MP for Norwich North and Minister for the Constitution