The Democracy Boxis a non-partisan project about how we make sure everyone understands the basics of our UK democracy and how young people can creatively inform & engage ALL generations in our UK democracy. With the latest phase of the project coming to an end, its creator Yvonne Murphy shared all they've achieved together.
Democratic rights and freedoms without the skills and knowledge to use them are like owning a car without being able to drive
Omidaze is also exploring a Democracy Box Music Festival with Youth Cymru & RecRock which will be trialled in 2022.
They are currently up to 32 young co-creators from all across Wales and are recruiting more young co-creators. The call out is here - this is a paid opportunity for any 16-26 year olds born or based in Wales.
The Clwstwr funding for The Democracy Box has now come to an end and Omidaze are delighted that Youth Cymru (The Pears Foundation & The Guardian Appeal) have awarded a small grant to keep developing this vital public information work until October 2021.
Surely the best way to ensure young people understand and engage in our democracy is to make sure young people are paid to be front and centre of any information campaigns about our Welsh and UK democracy.
well developed and resilient Creative Habits of Mind and increased curiosity, confidence, self-esteem and transferrable creative skills
Yvonne (aka Omidaze) is developing the Creative Cascade Model with 15 teachers from across the CSC region to work out how to equip and prepare teachers to share The Story of Our UK Democracy That Every Citizen Should Know and meet new curriculum goals by replicating the Democracy Box young co-creator process with students aged 7 -16 in schools across Wales.
90-100% of young people Omidaze has surveyed want this stuff taught in primary and secondary schools.
Sophie Howe, Future Generations Commissioner for Wales & Democracy Box Collaborator said:
“Across the world young people are realising that democracies have failed them and future generations to come on issue like climate change, jobs and skills and wellbeing. Part of this problem may be that our education system does not provide enough support to young people to help them understand and engage with democratic systems or processes. The holistic nature of the new curriculum provides an opportunity to address this but teachers and learners must be supported to find creative ways to. This programme is a way of doing exactly that.”
Omidaze/Yvonne Murphy has created a Democracy Box best practice guide or framework for co-creating and collaborating with young people. The toolkit draws together Yvonne’s body of participatory work and artistic practice from over thirty years, her knowledge and experience of working with young people across the UK and Internationally and 18 months of intensive Research & Development funded by Clwstwr.
This toolkit will enable organisations to place young people at the heart of work which is created to reach their age range and help organisations and individuals in both the democracy sector and beyond to engage inclusively, meaningfully and creatively with young people.
The draft toolkit was tested for the first time in mid-July 2021 with potential end users at Blaenau Gwent County Council and again with a second draft in September 2021 and received 100% excellent feedback.
Example use: 90% of young people surveyed by Omidaze do not know what their Local Council does, who their councillors are or how to get in touch with them. And yet the majority are interested and concerned about things happening locally where they live. The Democracy Box Toolkit will help Councils to inform, engage, recruit, train and co-create with young people in their local area and increase democratic knowledge, interest and participation both in the short-term for upcoming Local Elections and for the sustainable longer-term.
The seed phase R&D confirmed that many Welsh and UK citizens, including teachers and educators do not have a sound basic understanding of the UK democracy and how local, devolved and Westminster Governments all fit together and why. There should be No Shame & No Blame in not knowing this stuff.
The Talking Shop is where this all began & now Yvonne plans to return and work out how to place The Democracy Box inside The Talking Shop.
As she researched democracy signposting the same thing came up time and time again which young people, old people and everyone in between say they want – face to face interaction. There's nothing quite like stopping a stranger in the street and asking for directions when all else has failed.
Which took Yvonne right back to where she had begun and what she already knew when she began her Clwstwr research. She thinks we need a combination of the two. Live and digital. One without the other is not enough.
The Talking Shop which was piloted in 2019 in Cardiff and is due to reopen in early 2022. Inside the Talking Shop people asked if there was something people could just show each other on their phone and inside the digital democracy box young people said over and over again that they would like to find this stuff out face to face. We need both.
We need A Talking Shop in each of the five lowest voter turn-out constituencies in Wales creating face to face voter engagement & a shop window for The Democracy Box.
Yvonne has already secured the first 10k grant towards this from the Cares Family and UnLtd and confirmed partners now include Cardiff Council, NTW and the Riverfront in Newport. Omidaze is part of the first Cares Family Multiplier Programme and have been awarded a small grant towards reopening & developing The Talking Shop in early 2022 and we delighted to be now working with academics at Aberystwyth and Swansea Universities led by Professor Anwen Elias (of Aberystwyth) exploring creative approaches to a Conversation with the Nation using The Democracy Box & Talking Shop models.
Yvonne is currently seeking partners and funding which will allow her to keep the Cardiff shop open for at least a year to give her time to create a blueprint so that the Talking Shop can be replicated in those 5 lowest voter turn-out constituencies & then across Wales and eventually the UK because as one visitor said in 2019.
..to deny people opportunities to learn how the system works and how to exercise power as citizens, is to deny democracy.
The Democracy Box is a non-partisan research and development project funded by Clwstwr until summer 2021 and created by Yvonne Murphy aka Omidaze Productions.
The Democracy Box involves young people from all around Wales being paid as co-creators to explore and develop new ways to explain the basics of our democracy for other young people, old people and everyone in between all year round and not just in the run up to an election.