From the transition out of lockdown to the terms of the economic stimulus, significant decisions will be taken over the coming weeks and months with consequences that will be felt for many years and decades.
What role can and should the public play in these decisions? How can we ensure that the Covid-19 response and recovery are democratic?
In a joint project, Involve and the Centre for the Study of Democracy at the University of Westminster are exploring these questions. Specifically, we're looking at the role of public participation and deliberation in the:
- Short-term – for example, in scrutinising the decisions being made concerning the crisis response and determining the transition out of lockdown and other social distancing measures;
- Medium-term – for example, in shaping the future after Covid-19, including the post-pandemic economic stimulus and social contract;
- Long-term – for example, in learning the lessons from Covid-19, holding decision-makers to account and taking the necessary decisions to prevent a similar crisis in the future.
We're currently working with other practitioners to develop guidance for local authorities on involving communities in the COVID-19 response and recovery. It will be published here soon.
We are curating a collection of think pieces on participation, democracy and Covid-19. Read the collection so far:
USING DELIBERATIVE DEMOCRACY TO BUILD BACK BETTER IN BRISTOL - Councillor Asher Craig, Bristol City Council
"For far too long the social, racial and economic inequalities that exist in our city have drowned out the voices of the most disadvantaged. There is a very real risk that the economic fallout of Covid will further entrench the inequalities felt throughout Bristol. Engaging with local residents presents an opportunity for these inequalities to be confronted and addressed by the very citizens who experience them."
MUTUAL AID: A CATHEDRAL THINKING RESPONSE TO COVID-19 – Hannah Ormston, Carnegie UK Trust
"We have seen, heard, and read a lot about the critical role of mutual aid in the response to Covid-19. In the early stages of lockdown, many new groups appeared, acting as a lifeline between some of the most vulnerable members of society, and those able to offer their support. From sharing food to collecting prescriptions, delivering books or newspapers, these compassionate acts during a time of anxiety and change will be remembered by many who experienced the pandemic."
SOME THINGS ARE SO URGENT THAT WE CAN’T AFFORD TO DO THEM QUICKLY – Martin Johnstone, Poverty Truth Network
"There is an inherent contradiction in the title of this blog, but also a deep truth. At times quick decisions need to be made and procrastinating costs lives. Other times our immediate, short term responses – natural though they may be – do not serve us well in the longer term. We will doubtless have experienced both during the COVID19 pandemic and we are likely to see both again in our attempts to recover from it."
A TIME FOR MORE DEMOCRACY NOT LESS – Graham Smith; Joe Mitchell; Tim Hughes & Lizzie Adams
"As part of the “A democratic response to COVID-19” project, we have been scanning print and social media to get a sense of how arguments for participation and deliberation are resonating in public debates. This is a summary of what we’ve found so far."
A DEMOCRATIC RESPONSE TO COVID-19: IS IT POSSIBLE & HOW DO WE GET THERE? – Lizzie Adams
"We held a workshop with our deliberative democracy Practitioners’ Network to explore what a democratic response to Covid-19 should look like."
WHY PARTICIPATION AND DELIBERATION ARE VITAL TO THE COVID-19 RESPONSE – Graham Smith & Tim Hughes
"Involve and the Centre for the Study of Democracy have launched a project to understand how participation and deliberation can improve decision making in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. By participation, we mean direct involvement of people in the decisions that affect their lives. By deliberation, we mean opportunities for people to share and test ideas through inclusive and respectful conversations."
Get in touch if you would like to contribute.