I started the Good Ideas Class thinking about how to reform the Health and Social Care system, as I explored this, I realised I was more frustrated about why those giving and receiving care were not involved in the conversation on reform rather than just the failure of the system. After lots of difficult reflection I concluded that I should focus on my core values; participation, equality and a passion for poverty reduction and that this ran through everything I’d done to date.
I was the optimistic 10 year old writing letters to John Major about the Rio Climate deal, I was the assertive 17 year old calling out sexism in my physics class, I was the enthusiastic 19 year old protesting about student fees, I was the idealistic 24 year old Chair of the British Youth Council being invited into conversations about youth policy with the government, I was the passionate civil servant wanting to reduce global poverty and thinking I had the opportunity to shape government policy.
I’m now the 32 year old who is still passionate about climate change, youth rights, gender equality, education and poverty reduction. But who has realised unless we challenge and change the model of political participation and give everyone the opportunity to participate and get involved in these issues we will never be able to solve these big system problems.
I didn’t start with this because, it felt too big, too challenging, like it was something that I was never going to be able to change. But also because it felt too raw, too vulnerable, too close to my core values, that the risks of failure were too big to try, because if I failed I would fail on everything that I believed in. I’ve realised that whilst this feels uncomfortable, I have a unique opportunity and set of skills to try and help create a world where everyone feels that they can influence change.
This is where Exploring Participation has come from, it will be 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.