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About Involve

We want to build a democracy that works for everyone – that gives people real power to effect change in their lives, communities and beyond, and helps solve 21st century challenges.  We work to make politics, government and society more open, participatory and deliberative.

Involve gives people the power to take and influence the decisions that affect their lives. We help institutions to harness the potential of public participation. And we support people and institutions to collaborate to achieve social change.

Involve was founded in 2003 to “create a new focus for thinking and action on the links between new forms of public participation and existing democratic institutions”.  Since then, we have developed world renowned expertise, skills and resources on public participation, open governance and democratic reform. We have partnered with international, national, devolved and local organisations – including the OECD, Open Government Partnership, UK and devolved governments and parliaments, numerous local authorities and public sector bodies, and civil society organisations to:

Registered Charity No – 1130568

Registered Company No – 05669443

What we want

Involve’s vision is of…

A democracy that works for everyone

“A democracy…”

We believe our political system is lacking three essential qualities of democracy:

  • Openness – The public should be able to understand, influence and hold decisions-makers to account for the actions and inactions of their governments;
  • Participation – People should have the freedom, support and opportunity to shape their communities and influence the decisions that affect their lives;
  • Deliberation – A key role of democracy is exchanging and acknowledging different perspectives, understanding conflict and finding common ground, and building a shared vision for society.

“…that works…”

We believe that these qualities are necessary for democracy to be able to solve 21st century challenges, including extreme inequality, the impacts of globalisation, climate change, rapid technological development and the pressures of an aging society.

“…for everyone”

We believe that openness, participation and deliberation are also crucial to achieving political justice – a more equal sharing of political power in society – and in turn economic and social justice.







Why we want it

Democracy in the UK and globally is in a state of turmoil.  Involve has long argued that a democracy based on a much greater degree of openness, participation and deliberation is needed to respond to the complex challenges and trade-offs we collectively face.  Our political system has not kept pace with rapid changes in society, the economy, technology and the environment, and has left us unequipped to build a more equal and just society.

In 2016 we saw some of the most direct and obvious consequences of a democratic system that does not live up to the demands of the 21st century.  It should come as no surprise to anyone that large swathes of the population – “Remainers” and “Brexiteers” alike – do not believe the system works for them.

Against some measures, the EU referendum can be considered a great democratic moment – with the largest number of UK voters in over two decades choosing to exercise their democratic will on an issue of national importance. While that must not be forgotten, it is also critical not to ignore the obvious failings of our political system before, during and after the EU Referendum.

The lead up to and aftermath of the referendum vote revealed a broken politics and society – marked by uncivil debate; scare tactics; misused “facts”; ad hominem attacks; broken political promises; voters cast as stupid, incapable and irresponsible; judges branded as “enemies of the people”; rejections of the result; attempts to silence opponents; trolling; hate crime; and a return to behind-closed-doors decision making.

We believe that the current context demands the re-envisioning of democracy and the building of a broad movement to transform our political system.

How we work

Involve’s work is underpinned by strong values of:

  • Collaboration – We recognise that change comes from broad coalitions working towards a common vision.
  • Equality – We believe that everyone in society has an equal right to be listened to and participate in decisions that affect their lives, and that no one should be held back by societal divisions or prejudice.
  • Purpose – We advocate for participation that makes a difference – which connects people with power and solves 21st century challenges – and reject tokenistic or ineffectual engagement.

What we do

1. Agenda-setting

We are responding to the current political context and setting-out a vision for an open, participatory and deliberative democracy, and how to get there.

  • Vision – We are building a vision for what a “democracy that works for everyone” would look like in practice and how it will solve 21st century challenges.
  • Policy – We identify appropriate policy asks for decision makers, including small goals on a pathway to greater change and systemic transformations.
  • Innovation – We identify the innovations in practice most likely to effect and spread change, providing new ideas for other advocates and practitioners.

2. Coalition-building

We are building, supporting and coordinating broad, unexpected and powerful coalitions of allies to shape and advocate for a new vision for democracy.

  • Advocacy – We are building a broad coalition of advocates from civil society, political institutions, the media, and beyond to apply pressure for change.
  • ExpertWe are building our links with academics to share our learning and ensure our advocacy and practice is always rooted in the latest evidence.
  • Practice – We are supporting practitioners of participation, facilitating collective action and joining up initiatives, resources and expertise.

3. Participation practice

We support world class public participation practice and research, particularly where it can be used to build the case and pressure for wider change.

  • Demonstrating efficacy – We use demonstration projects to show the efficacy of public participation, particularly on the key challenges facing society.
  • Sharing expertise – We are building widespread understanding of good participatory practice.
  • Supporting change – We support the planning, design, delivery and evaluation of effective participatory processes, mechanisms and strategies.