Funding for projects to open up democracy to underrepresented groups
School children chatting with politicians and workshops for deaf people about how democracy can work better for them are just a few ways the Welsh Government is looking to get more people involved with politics.
The Welsh Government is funding 11 projects through its Democratic Engagement Grant, targeting those less likely to be active in the democratic process. These range from helping people to register to vote, to encouraging them to participate with democratically elected bodies such as Town and Community Councils.
British Deaf Association Cymru will be supported to deliver bespoke workshops across deaf centres, clubs and groups in Wales with the aim of empowering people who are underrepresented in politics to get involved.
Another organisation, the Politics Project, will be supported to continue to run their ‘Digital Dialogue’ sessions in schools. These bring students and elected members together to discuss what matters most to them.
Other projects include the Innovate Trust, enabling people with learning disabilities and their local authorities to come together to create digital content on what to expect when they go to a polling station.
Nick French, Innovate Trust CEO, said:
“We’re delighted to have received funding from Welsh Government’s Democratic Engagement Grant. Many of us take being able to vote for granted. Yet people with learning disabilities face countless barriers when it comes to registering to vote, knowing who to vote for and casting their vote with confidence. With this funding, we will be breaking down these barriers to promote democratic engagement amongst the people that we support by delivering a programme of accessible, informative sessions about the democratic process as a whole.”
Boys & Girls Club Wales will also receive funding to run Pizza and Politics workshops and Raise your Voice projects, with an emphasis on those who are currently marginalised from democracy – including people from ethnic minority backgrounds, LGBTQ+ young people, disabled people, and those with poor mental health.
Grant Poiner, Boys & Girls Club Wales CEO, said:
"This grant will have a significant impact on young people who do not normally engage with politics. Through innovative workshops led by trained Youth Workers the project will provide young people with the information and the confidence to be able to exercise their democratic right of being able to vote at the age of 16 in elections in Wales.”
The Counsel General Mick Antoniw confirmed the funding in a statement to the Senedd today. He also outlined the Welsh Government’s intention to legislate for a legal duty which would improve diversity by providing support to remove barriers to participation, building on previous initiatives such as the Access to Elected Office Fund which was piloted with support from Disability Wales.
Mick Antoniw, Counsel General and Minister for the Constitution, said:
“In recent years we have made significant progress in strengthening Welsh democracy, including giving 16 and 17-year-olds the vote as well as for qualifying foreign citizens.
“The projects we are supporting through our Democratic Engagement Grant will continue these efforts to improve participation in our democracy.
“Our actions are in direct contrast with the UK Government. What we see across the border are very deliberate efforts to make it harder to vote. Its new voter ID laws are nothing short of an attack on democracy. We are not only rejecting this in devolved elections in Wales, but we are actively working to improve democratic engagement and make it easier for people to vote.”
The funding comes as the Welsh Government’s programme to modernise elections in Wales continues to gather pace, including an automatic voter registration pilot scheme being worked on with local authorities and additional funding support for MySociety who provide support for meaningful participation in democracy and access to political information, including They Work For You.
Notes to editors
- Tenby Town Council (1 year project with £1,000 funding) - establish a community forum to increase participation in their community on local matters
- Llanelli Town Council (1 year project with £1,000) - produce materials and run sessions in local schools focusing on good citizenship, the role of the Mayor in Llanelli, why we vote and the history of voting and democracy
- Llansteffan and Llanybri Community Council (1 year project with £940) - establish a Youth Forum, encouraging young people to be involved with local issues and have a strong link with the Community Council (YF reps will attend meetings and cover topics of interest)
- Politics Project, pan-Wales (3 year project with £187,000) - continue to run their Digital Dialogue Sessions in schools across Wales
- PLANED, west Wales (1 year project with £15,000) - hold activities centred around connecting young people to elected officials from town and community councils in west Wales
- British Deaf Association, pan-Wales (1 year project with £16,000) - run in-person and digital workshops to their stakeholders on how democracy works to empower Deaf people
- Ceredigion Council (1 year project with £10,000) - creating content specifically designed to reach out and engage with qualifying foreign nationals in their communities
- Vocal Eyes, Swansea (2 year project with £32,000) - workingwith schools within an area of Swansea with the lowest voter turnout, introducing the pupils to how democracy works, and the power they have as individuals when they recognise, they have a voice, and can use it, to bring the changes they want to see take shape
- South Wales Central Local Authorities is a joint project run by Cardiff, RCT and Vale of Glamorgan Councils (1 year project with £7,000) - creating digital content on what to expect at a polling station
- Innovate Trust, pan-Wales (1 year project with £28,000) - raise democratic awareness, increase voter registration and participation amongst people with learning disabilities in Wales
- Boys & Girls Club Wales, pan-Wales (2 year project with £100,000) - continue to run their Pizza and Politics workshops and Raise your Voice Projects, with an emphasis on those who are marginalised. Including: people from ethnic minority backgrounds, LGBTQ+ young people and disabled young people and those with poor mental health
MySociety is also receiving funding as part of the Welsh Government's efforts to promote democratic engagement, by enabling Welsh citizens to access information about the Senedd alongside the UK Parliament. This will tailor the TheyWorkForYou.com website for Wales, including creating a Welsh language version. It will also allow for the integration of data from the Senedd Cymru website to allow access to information about Welsh representatives in the same way that people can for Scottish and Northern Ireland.