When the Wheel and the Carnegie UK Trust first embarked on the People’s Conversation it was in the knowledge that a new vision for citizenship can and should be shaped by people themselves.
Our excellent partner organisations convened a number of Conversation Groups made up of 12-15 members each, drawn from a variety of backgrounds and life experiences, to hold a series of conversations over a 12 month period. This structure meant that we managed to hear from all types of people from all walks of life.
We wanted to get people talking in small, diverse groups and engaging in deep and challenging conversations on values and expectations. And they certainly did!
Citizens shared their incredible insights and experiences, they generated ideas and they inspired each other to action.
The discussions were open but they were also challenging. We asked participants to consider the following questions:
– “What is shaping our future?”
– “What do citizens expect and what is expected of citizens?”
The conversations were rich, engaged and enthusiastic. And, perhaps most importantly, each one was different to the last.
The final report, Citizen’s Rising, reflected these citizens’ conversations in their rich diversity. But it also identified key challenges that need to be met in order to make this new vision of citizenship a reality. The report we identified three key avenues to progress:
1. Promoting active citizenship and an independent community and voluntary sector.
2. Putting citizen participation at the heart of the design and delivery of public services.
3. Developing the link between economic and social wellbeing and citizen participation.
Our goal is to secure the widespread adoption of a progressive programme of reform which would benefit all citizens as inspired by the People’s Conversation. To do this, in phase II of this project we have convened a broad range of partners to put together a work plan for progressing the three themes set out above:
Group 1 is focused on Active Citizenship and an Independent Community and Voluntary Sector. Their works centres around consulting with Wheel members on where they would like to see the voluntary sector in Ireland in 10 years’ time. They are preparing an ambitious vision document for the sector that will be submitted to the Government as part of its promised strategy for the voluntary and community sector in Ireland.
Group 2 is looking at innovative ways to involve citizens in the design and delivery of public services. Their task is to try to get citizens more involved with a specific focus on the use of digital technology. We would love to design a digital engagement template which could be used by Government for consultation!
The third group are looking at ways to develop the link between social and economic wellbeing and citizen participation. The main premise of their work will be in and around the issues of people with very little material wealth not participating in society compared to those who have more. We want to speak to and engage with people about issues like public services, taxation and what material floor they need to live a life with dignity.
We hope that by the end of the project we will have added value to the areas we are working on and helped to bring citizens closer to decision making process and more likely to participate in society. We are excited and inspired by this process and we hope you are too, make sure to watch this space for more blogs and videos from our group members sharing our progress and how they feel about the project so far!