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.
Building Back With: A handbook for local government
This handbook is intended to support local authorities to consider how they can build back with their local communities, involving them in the Covid-19 response and recovery. The handbook contains eight chapters, covering the following:
Chapter 1: Introduction – what the handbook contains, how it's been developed and how you can contribute;
Chapter 2: Why involve people now – the rationale for involving local communities in the Covid response and recovery;
Chapter 3: Before you start – tips on making the case and securing institutional buy-in;
Chapter 4: Where to start – some principles for planning high-quality public engagement;
Chapter 5: Helpful resources – a range of handy handbooks, guides and toolkits to help plan and deliver community engagement;
Chapter 6: Where it’s happening – examples and case studies engaging people in taking decisions and action around Covid;
Chapter 7: What it could look like – illustrative processes to provide some inspiration for how communities could be engaged on different issues;
Chapter 8: Further reading – links to interesting further reading on Covid, public participation and democracy.
The handbook has been written by Involve in partnership with members of the Deliberative Democracy Practitioners’ Network.
We are curating a collection of think pieces on participation, democracy and Covid-19. Read the collection so far:
DOES DEMOCRACY NEED A TIME REBELLION? - Roman Krznaric, Author "The Good Ancestor: How to think long-term in a short-term world"
"Democracy has always had a problem with time. No matter how it is organised – with different electoral systems or varying power splits between the executive, legislature and judiciary – it suffers from a fundamental temporal design flaw: the interests of future generations are typically ignored."
THE PANDEMIC HAS SHOWN US THAT PARENTS HAVE A BIGGER ROLE TO PLAY IN EDUCATION - Kerry-Jane Packman, Parentkind
"Since March 2020, most parents have had no choice but to become more involved than ever before in their child’s learning. Schools were ordered to close in an effort to slow the spread of Covid-19. The pandemic saw many parents juggling careers with simultaneously monitoring their child’s learning from home."
BUILDING MORE VIBRANT AND INCLUSIVE DEMOCRACIES: HOW TO MEET THE CHALLENGES OF COVID-19 - Sanjay Pradhan, OGP
"We’re at a critical moment in history, amidst a confluence of five profound crises...And yet, at this same moment in history, the open government movement has a unique opportunity to help tackle these crises."
THE LONG & THE SHORT OF IT: LOCAL AUTHORITIES RESPONDING TO COVID-19 WITH DELIBERATION & PARTICIPATION - Lizzie Adams, Involve
"This blog explores how local authorities are currently, or planning to in future, use deliberation and participation in their response to Covid-19. There’s a short read and a long read option depending on your time!"
THE PERFECT STORM? EMERGING FROM THE CRISIS STRONGER, THROUGH SHARING WHAT WE HAVE - Jez Hall, Shared Future CIC
"Individually, and collectively, many tragedies and crises have been faced since the pandemic struck this country. Most of us yearn for a new beginning. Others fear the storm has not passed. Maybe we’re just in the eye of the hurricane? A moment of false calm, awaiting the next onslaught."
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.