Introducing: Involve and the Network for Democracy

Posted on: 26 May 2021

JRRT is today announcing that it has agreed a three-year grant award of £350,000 to Involve to set up a Democracy Network, which includes a contribution of £50,000 from the Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust (JRCT) to the first year of this new initiative.

In 2020, we commissioned Networking for Democracy, an analysis of sector needs and perspectives. It concludes that building better connections within and outside the sector is a priority capacity building need; and that there is a good case and support for building a “network”.

Following on from this work, and having reached out to groups and individuals working in the democracy space to craft a Call for Proposals, we are thrilled to announce that Involve has been commissioned to take forward work on incubating, expanding and coordinating a Network for Democracy over the next three years.

Involve is the UK’s public participation charity with a vision of a more vibrant democracy, with people at the heart of decision-making. They recognise that the democracy sector is made up of a great diversity of groups and organisations across the country. Work to develop the network will begin from June, with three aims in mind:

  • Connecting: Developing a trusted, strong, diverse and well-functioning democracy network, with high engagement in network activities and an expanding reach to new groups;
  • Information sharing and capacity building: Increasing the knowledge, skills, resources and impact of members; and,
  • Vision and influence: Expanding the collective influence of the network and its members, including receiving increased media and political attention.

Tim Hughes from Involve explains: “The initial focus of activities will be on co-developing the network with people from across the democracy sector and exploring how the network can help to support and boost the impact of existing initiatives. Ultimately, we want to build a broad and diverse coalition of people passionate about democracy that reaches far and wide across the country, and enables us to collectively shape our democratic future.”

Fiona Weir, CEO of JRRT, says: “The growing collaboration across the democracy sector is encouraging and vital given the multiple and serious challenges to democracy today. JRRT is making a multi-year commitment to funding a Democracy Network to strengthen efforts in this space. 

We were impressed by Involve’s commitment to an open and co-creative approach that will build trust and sustain collaboration, alongside their grasp of how a network could add value to existing initiatives, building the collective power and influence of the sector.”

Katharine Knox, JRCT Power and Accountability Programme Manager says: “We are delighted to be supporting the establishment of this new initiative to build collaboration in the democracy sector. The challenges we are facing in relation to democratic accountability at this time in the UK warrant supporting the sector to pull together to maximise information sharing, coordination and connections to increase the sector’s influence. We look forward to working with JRRT and Involve in the year ahead.”

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Regular updates on the activities and events of the Network for Democracy can be seen in the free monthly sector newsletter, Democracy Action. Subscribe here today!