UK Wide

How do we build the power of people from all walks of life to create a better, fairer democracy?

The School for Everyday Democracy
A diverse group people clapping and cheering
Institution:
Location:
Partners:
Act Build Change, National Lottery Community Fund
Duration:
April 2024 - March 2027

Half (47%) of people in the UK believe they have no influence over decision making. Most believe the current political system does not understand them, or deliver what they need. And, people’s lack of power and trust is not uniform — those furthest from power understandably have the least trust in the current system.

And yet, we see on a daily basis people’s desire and ability to work with others to make things better. During our processes, there is a moment for many of those involved, when they realise they have the right, ability and opportunity to make a difference. Similarly, there is always a moment when two people from very different backgrounds find that they are able to work together. We want to take this moment and build on it.

The good news is, we increasingly have the tools to help make this possible. From a greater understanding and use of processes like participatory budgeting and citizens assemblies, to a national rise in community organising approaches, we are better equipped to support people to make a difference on the issues that matter to them. 

We have a unique opportunity to build the power of people from all walks of life to come together to deliver common good in communities across the country. This is what our democracy needs; people having the power, confidence, connections, skills, and opportunities required to affect the things that matter most to them. We call this everyday democracy. 

This programme will support 100 people to become Everyday Democracy Champions, in turn catalysing the action of others in communities furthest from power, and creating tangible change across all four UK nations. The programme is generously supported by the National Lottery Community Fund’s UK Fund.

Our long term vision is to shift the balance of power within our democratic system and across all four nations of the UK, to strengthen society so it is more:

  • Equitable – needs, experience and ideas of all people centred in how we determine our collective future
  • Participatory – people have the freedom, support and opportunity to shape their communities and influence the decisions that affect their lives 
  • Empathetic – people seek to understand, empathise with and care for others, including those different to themselves.

The programme has three main workstreams, which will be delivered for four cohorts of 25 champions. There are two groups of people that are primed and ready to take advantage of our programme: active citizens who have taken part in Involve processes, and activists involved in grassroots organisations. 

  1. A training academy for cohorts of 25 people from across the UK that are disempowered by our current system. We will train Everyday Democracy Champions in participation, deliberation and community organising, and support them to develop and deliver action plans in their communities. This includes: 
    • Launch weekend
    • Residential training courses
    • Public engagement and community organising simulations
    • Practice in the community
    • Graduation event
  2. A peer-to-peer network to build collective power and share knowledge and learning. We will support Everyday Democracy Champions as they implement their plans and provide a reflective space. This includes:
    • Support teams around key issues, approaches or geographies
    • Online forum
    • One-to-one mentoring
    • Regular peer-to-peer support sets
    • Annual Unconference 
  3. Support to act to help champions to implement their actions on issues determined by them, not us, and to increase the impact of the programme based on their needs. This includes: 
    • Action masterclasses on topics like campaigning, governance, organising, advocacy and participatory processes
    • Action amplification through campaigns and communications support 
    • Opportunity to join up work across Champions’ projects, for example to establish a national campaign on a specific issue 
If you'd like to join the conversation about how the School for Everyday Democracy can create real lasting change for people, communities and our democracy, let us know.

Recruitment for the first cohort will be launched in summer 2024. We will have hard quotas in place within our recruitment process for people from minoritised groups. Our cohorts of Champions will be made up of those furthest from traditional forms of power. All participation costs will be covered — like travel, accommodation and food for residentials — and each Champion will receive a £500 honorarium when they complete the programme. We want people from all backgrounds to be able to take part in the programme so we will cover costs of things like childcare and interpretation to allow for equitable participation. 

If you'd like to join the conversation about how the School for Everyday Democracy can create real lasting change for people, communities and our democracy, then please complete this Google Form.

If you are a funder or donor who would like to support or sponsor the programme, please get in touch with Carly Walker-Dawson, Director of Capacity Building and Standards, at [email protected]

Join the conversation!