Citizenship and civic engagement web forum

The House of Lords has set up a Committee on Citizenship and Civic Engagement. We've asked for formal evidence, but we also want to know how you feel we could all work together to make a better society.

  • Why do so many groups in society appear to feel disengaged and 'left behind'? How could they be supported and encouraged to participate more in public life?
  • Are there specific values or beliefs that are important within British society?
  • What role might citizenship education play in terms of promoting shared values and the skills necessary to engage in society?
  • What are the main barriers to civic engagement and – more importantly – how might they be removed?
  • Where are the examples of successful innovation, positive role models or new forms of civic engagement?

You don't have to try and answer all of these questions and please feel free to pose questions that you think are important and deserve discussion. The Committee is committed to trying to understand how people from different communities, backgrounds and parts of the UK feel about these issues. Comments will be used to inform the Committee's thinking on this issue.

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Citizenship and civic engagement


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63 Responses to Citizenship and civic engagement

James Cathcart says:
October 15, 2017 at 03:47 PM
The Russell Commission report 'Youth Action and Engagement(2005),is an excellent and rich source of information on "youth" for the Committee, in particular its concept of the individual citizen's journey through a national framework for youth action and engagement (P8-9). Could be enshrined in a modern Magna Carta of rights and responsibilities. I would add a Citizens Card that captures basic information and records engagement in that journey. I particularly like a info graphic illustration to make sense of complex relationships and milestones, to show opportunities and achievements in the citizen journey throughout a lifetime. However citizenship is much more that youth social action, but includes engagements with democracy, exercising rights, scrutiny, free speech, and needs a corresponding set of entitlements from the state to the citizen - protection by the rule of law and the courts, liberty, freedom of speech, equality, access to public services. I really hope the final report references both sides of the 'engagement' relationship between the citizens and the state, and references the Magna Carta.
Fabio says:
October 12, 2017 at 01:31 AM
1) I think they don't integrated into the british society, they live in ghettos and don't try to lear the language. watch chanel tv for his countries. This is nothing wrong with british people, I think the problem is people who come here without any goals in life, only to get benefits.
2) I come here 20 years ago and british society was open, now for many bad inmmigrants people they are no to friendly like they was before. I remember when the train station and many underground station don't have barrier and everybody get the tickets, after this people start to abuse the system everything change unfortunately.
David Sanderson says:
October 11, 2017 at 11:16 AM
Civic engagement is now a DIY operation. In my village (a large ex-industrial village in the south Pennines), the excellent local newspaper has folded & Parish Council meetings are often not quorat. However, local folk have set up an excellent Facebook group for the community (residents + Businesses), that now has many more users than live locally! See
This is where issues of traffic congestion, floods, crime, news of upcoming dances, shop special offers etc get posted and discussed. Instant and free....Note it is moderated to quickly weed out offensive and untrue posts.
Jol Miskin says:
October 10, 2017 at 05:19 PM
There is a crucial role to be played by adult education and I think the Workers' Educational Association which is the largest provider of adult education in England and Scotland. Whilst we can and do offer dedicated 'active citizenship' education- something we now call Practical Political Education (PPE) - there's also much evidence to show that community based adult education with a social purpose (The WEA's mission)can and does encourage greater engagement in the political sphere. It also brings adults together from different backgrounds and experiences. So, more adult education is a prerequisite for more engaged and active citizens. We need dynamic, well resourced lifelong learning. As part of that we should offer PPE free as a basic and essential 'skill' alongside English, maths and digital skills.
Antonia Jennings says:
October 10, 2017 at 04:16 PM
In answer to your last question, I'd like to bring your attention to the charity I work for, Economy (ecnmy.org). Our mission is to create a more understandable economics, giving people the confidence to question what economics is, and shape what the economy could be.

Economy was conceived out of Rethinking Economics (RE), a student-led campaign calling for a university economics education which creates critical, socially engaged economists who have the knowledge and skills to address the pressing problems that our generation faces.

Economy was the result of RE realising that producing better economists wasn’t enough; to build a sustainable, just and democratic society we need a general public that is able to engage with economic discussion, scrutinise economic decision makers, and articulate what it needs from the economy. RE began placing greater emphasis on making economics more accessible to the public in 2013/14, via open conferences and schools workshops. In 2015, a group of our students from within the movement at Manchester University featured in Terry Jones’ film on the 2008 financial crash: Boom Bust Boom, to talk about the failings of an economics education to teach its students how the crisis happened in the first place.

From this, the student movement devised Economy, which was registered as its own association CIO (No. 1166046) in the UK in March 2016. Economy is designed to be a source of accessible, engaging and pluralist economics for anyone and everyone.

We believe we are giving individuals and communities a voice to take ownership over the economic decisions that affect them. Our research has shown, the way in which economics is presented in the public sphere at present is inaccessible to the majority of our society, leading to the paradoxical situation of a marginalised majority. Many people are unable to fully participate in democratic life, or take part in debate on how social and economic life should be structured.

Inaccessible economics is open only to those with a specialist education, power, and privilege. Economy sets out to address this power imbalance, demystifying economic language to educate its audience on how the economy works and where they fit in, transforming the subject from a barrier to a bridge for citizens to engage in critical, grounded and informed political debate.

Economy aims to catalyse a change in our public culture and economic and political systems through reimagining the relationship between citizens and decision makers. At a time when local, national and international politics is changing rapidly, it is imperative that the UK has a fully functioning democracy. We believe that the inability of the majority of people to engage in conversation on economics creates a democratic deficit which our work is uniquely placed to tackle.

Please get in touch! We would love to contribute to this committee in some way. Thanks, Antonia.
aster mehretab says:
October 08, 2017 at 11:01 PM
the life in the united kingdom citizenship test is incredibly difficult, i am lucky i didn't have to do it. I know many people who so want to pass the test and feel fully part of the British society, however this test is almost impossible, whoever wrote it is/are some how living in a bubble and don't realise most native British people would struggle to answer half the questions correctly. Or may be this was deliberately designed as a deterrent to reduce citizenship applications.
British values, culture and democratic practices should be part of the primary and secondary education curriculum.
Lidia Bosa says:
October 07, 2017 at 06:10 AM
The government does not encourage immigrants to become citizens. I have been living in the UK since 2004 on an Italian passport. Not once since I have arrived have I been contacted or advised of the benefits of becoming a citizen. Yet I have access to all the benefits that a UK citizen is entitled to. How could this be? What is the point of being a UK citizen? The government fails in providing a benefit of being a UK citizen and thus disconnects non UK citizens. As a non UK citizen I can cite racism and discrimination if I don't feel comfortable about a decision or failed opportunity.
If the Government made simple benefits such as NHS, access to social housing, pensions, unemployment benefits and education available at no cot ONLY to UK citizens then the whole CITIZENSHIP 'feeling of belonging' would be far better valued. Of course, as a non UK citizen, the access to any of the above should be available at a fee, as would be the case in any other foreign country.

My opinion as a NON UK citizen.
James Cathcart says:
October 06, 2017 at 10:57 AM
I see that witnesses from the National Citizen Service Trust are being invited to give evidence. I have been following its progress since it was first conceived, and have met many who have taken part, including in my local area. The more I read its positive evaluation and celebration of the talent, ability and creativity of this cohort of 16+, the more I believe that, with education and preparation, they are earning a right to vote a 16. If it was managed properly I can see a partnership to citizenship that not only develops young people, but gives them the right to vote.
James Cathcart says:
October 06, 2017 at 10:53 AM
I wanted to draw attention to the excellent work of the Parliamentary Outreach and Education Service which does a great job in engaging young citizens in understanding democracy in practical and engaging way. I particularly like it because of its endurance and innovation. It is a longterm effort, in a neutral zone, growing and popular. Please examine it and build on it as I believe the resources for schools in particular could underpin the education of future generations to a position of informed votes at 16.
James Cathcart says:
October 06, 2017 at 10:47 AM
I would recommend that the inquiry looks at the work of the UK Youth Parliament, and in particular its Make Your Mark campaign for those aged 11-18 across the UK. This is the biggest youth consultation in Europe (possibly the world) run in partnership with local authorities, Parliament and Government. It is part of the young people doing democracy differently and I think illustrates an engaging and appealing accessible form of active citizenship. Whilst the young members of the youth parliament and elected on personal manifesto, they check back annually, with their peers, what the top issues/campaigns ought to be through this ballot. From a list of 10, five are prioritised for debate in the House of Commons by young representatives. (its worth noting that the first debate of the UK Youth Parliament was hosted in Westminster by the House of Lords in 2008, before transferring to the Commons ever since) This year it is part of Parliament Week on Friday 10th November. Voting to choose the debate topics has just closed (last year nearly a million took part) and results will be announced later in October. I don't know if Lords are allowed to visit the Commons, or sent representatives of this Committee, but as someone privileged to have sat in the chamber with the young people during their debates, I would strongly urge you or a representative (its also broadcast on Parlt TV) to observe the debates first hand, chaired by Speaker Bercow, to see that they are engaged, have a mandate and a representative of their communities in background, diversity, gender and age. They will be future leaders, active citizens and politicians. The first of their alumni was elected as an MP in the June 17 election (Lloyd Russell-Moyle) and I very much hope the Lords will consider their work as encouraging but inspiring and informative to your conclusions. My conclusions/lessons to learn:
1. Supported youthled peer to peer volunteers reach millions
2. Youth people are interested and will engage across all demographics
3. Initiatives supported/rooted locally by local authorities, and in partnership with Parliament, (representing the existing/eldership) in partnership with youth led passion/schools, will endure the ups and downs of Governments, trendy ideas, s/t funding.