About Exploring Participation
Who is involved
Two years ago Emily Beardsmore moved to Scotland after four years living overseas working for the Department for International Development. Emily wanted to move back to the UK, but wanted to move to somewhere where it felt like there was an opportunity to engage in politics and shape the community that she lived in. Having observed the Scottish Referendum from Pakistan it felt like Scotland was a place where participation had increased but that this engagement hadn’t necessarily remained.
This came from an involvement in politics/political decision making over the last twenty years with a focus on tackling inequality, with a specific interest in social justice, education and building institutions. She was the optimistic 10 year old writing letters to John Major about the Rio Climate deal, she was the assertive 17 year old calling out sexism in her physics class, she was the enthusiastic 19 year old protesting about student fees, she was the idealistic 24 year old Chair of the British Youth Council being invited into conversations about youth policy with the government, she was the passionate civil servant wanting to reduce global poverty and thinking she could shape government policy.
Exploring Participation builds on all of those experiences and is a new form of dialogue bringing together people living in poverty, those not traditionally engaged in decision-making, policy-makers, politicians, community groups, academics to create a new paradigm for political engagement. This project will start with a process of a conversation, experimenting with innovative ways of participation and finding models that can be rolled out in different areas and at scale.
What else is happening
There is definitely a movement for change, participatory budgeting, universal income, discussions of inclusive growth, local community projects however there is nothing that is happening at scale and nothing that is changing the whole system of how we engage with politics and policy making and nothing with a real focus on poverty reduction and how we involve or start with those who are struggling the most. We really want to work with other organisations rather than starting something new for the sake of it.
What about the money
This is the bit that we're still not sure about. We can’t see an obvious enterprise/funding route for this. However we think it’s important to start and explore the opportunities and can self finance this until January.