People2Parliament is an education programme designed to strengthen the culture of democratic participation by helping to build up citizens’ knowledge of, and connections with, the UK Parliament. The initiative is being piloted with the Bangaldeshi community in London with the support of City Bridge Trust.
Our annual Audit of Political Engagement regularly shows that citizens from black and minority ethnic (BME) backgrounds are less pessimistic about the state of politics in Britain than are their white counterparts, and are more likely to think that getting involved in politics would be effective. Nevertheless, they are less likely actually to do so, even if they feel strongly about an issue.
Part of the answer to this conundrum may lie in the fact that the self-assessed knowledge levels of BME respondents - in relation to both politics and Parliament - are well below the national average. If a person feels they don’t understand how politics and Parliament work, this acts as a critical barrier to political engagement.
What we are doing
People2Parliament is an education programme designed to address this problem, strengthening the culture of democratic participation by helping people to develop:
- a greater understanding of the role of Parliament and other institutions in our democracy;
- an increased awareness of how to engage with Parliament on the issues that participants care about;
- a greater sense of confidence and empowerment to engage with Parliament; and
- a commitment to civic leadership.
The programme is being piloted with members of the Bangladeshi community in London. This community is large (about 400,000) and is mainly concentrated in Tower Hamlets and Newham. As a whole, the community suffers disproportionately from economic disadvantage and, for women and young people in particular, political exclusion.
People2Parliament will provide a new opportunity for individuals to learn more about how the democratic process works, and how to access and participate in decision-making processes.
The programme will also train participants to share this knowledge with others in the community, thus fostering broader understanding of the democratic process and engagement with both Parliament and public service.
How we are doing it
The programme will include a series of evening workshops, the production of a portfolio of independent work, and the opportunity to meet current politicians and campaigners and learn from their experience.
Applications for the 45 places on the scheme close on Thursday, 30 November 2017. The programme and how to apply are being widely advertised to the Bangladeshi community across London.
The first workshop will take place in January 2018, and the programme will conclude in March 2018.
There will then be a full review and assessment, with a view to identifying scope for rolling the project out to other communities and other parts of the country.
People2Parliament is being run in partnership with Nan Sloane, Director of the Centre for Women & Democracy. Nan is an experienced trainer and mentor, and has run political participation and leadership training both in the UK and abroad, including in the Balkans, Middle East & North Africa (MENA) countries, and Ghana and Botswana.
A range of speakers and contributors from politics and related fields will be invited to work with the participants on the course.
People2Parliament is funded by the City of London Corporation’s charitable funder, City Bridge Trust, as part of their ongoing work to tackle disadvantage in London.