Thursday, 28th February, Portcullis House, Westminster, London

“’I hate politics but I care about issues.’ This comment comes to us frequently,” said Emily Unell, in her overview of Parliament Week (November 15 – 21, 2013). She was talking to the 30+ participants gathered together in February by the organisation called Democracy Matters, arranged in plenty of time for groups to become partners and prepare to take part in the autumn. “People are actually turned off by politics”, she said. The whole point of Parliament Week is to encourage groups to make connections with Parliament, to know that it is relevant, and to feel connected. “People need to be able to make their voices heard,” she said.

Although there is no extra funding, there is plenty of support and free resources for anyone wanting to do anything that week to celebrate their connections with Parliament. Suggestions and ideas abound: hosting a panel discussion, just getting in touch with your MP, art, photography or poetry exhibitions, stage a play or dance performance, develop a topical blog, create an online activity, hold an educational workshop on how Parliament works. Last year a group of children getting extra support in literacy (Beanstalk) came to the Houses of Parliament, read their books at the top of Big Ben, read to the Sergeant at Arms, read to their MP. Let your imagination fly! This year there is a special emphasis on women in politics.

Democracy Matters, an alliance for learning practical politics, is keen to support, encourage, promote, and cheer-lead any organisation involved in Parliament Week, in Magna Carta, or in any way getting the message across that anyone can be a change-maker in their society if they are well informed. “If you don’t know the rules, how can you play?” they ask.

Two members of the National Executive Committee of the Educational Centres Association attended the briefing, eager for ECA members to become involved. If your group is planning anything to celebrate Parliament Week, Magna Carta, or political growth, please send the information to our website; it might spark off ideas for others.

Useful contacts:
ECA (Educational Centres Association)
Democracy Matters
Parliament Week partners:

Written by Judith Robinson, ECA Trustee

Date Added: March 6th 2013