Social isolation is a key requirement towards promoting wellbeing and preventing undue pressure on public services, such as costly hospital admissions. With an elderly mother of my own who is increasingly needing care at home it’s a subject close to my heart. Not least because of my passion for Participatory Budgeting (PB), that aims to include citizen voice, and can reduce social isolation whenever and wherever public money is being spent.
Now in its 9th year, the Citizen Participation University (CPU) is an annual gathering of community activists, organisers and developers, from across Europe, but also reaching out to the USA and into Turkey. Over 50 people came together, for 4 days, to talk, act out and share their best practice. A real powerhouse of community inspiration, and a rare opportunity to think outside of our boxes.
If two heads are better than one… what about 10 heads, or 100, or 67,000. Could Universities spearhead a new form of more open democratic accountability in educational Institutions? Would your school or college trust its learners, and use Participatory Budgeting to set just some of its budget? Or do we continue to believe the Vice-Chancellor always knows best?
I can hardly believe it is only two weeks since I was on a small Danish island, in the midst of the Baltic sea, taking part in the Danish Folkemoedet, or People’s Meeting. Sharing big ideas, rubbing up against national politicians (in their ill fitting jeans and over shined shoes) and celebrating the fact that every one — young, old, rich, homeless, black or white — had a valid opinion and something of value to add.
Can we ever create a world where people of all sorts can debate, decide and act together. In the political panic that has followed the referendum on leaving the EU there has been a lot of agonising. A lot of recrimination. We prefer to listen, reflect, and then try to get on with doing something positive. That is why we’re pleased to be part of Shared Future.
As part of the Imagine Belfast festival of ideas, held in March 2016, Jez Hall led a workshop exploring whether the citizens of Belfast could really influence how money was spent by Belfast City Council.