You are viewing blog items for November 2015.
posted by: Elisabeth Pop | on: Monday, 30 November 2015, 13:13
Should we care if millions of young people are not on the electoral roll?
There are already over 2 million 18-24 year olds not on the electoral register, so allowing this number to swell to 3 million is just unthinkable.
Those who want this democratic deficit to go unnoticed claim that students are apathetic or angry about anything and everything. That is definitely not the case with the vast majority of students I met.
Students do care about the communities they live in and the democratic crisis they will inherit. In this sense, organising a Voter Registration (VR) drive at London Metropolitan University on 19 November was so important, because these students will be part of the 10,000 people in Islington, 15,000 in Tower Hamlets and 44,000 in Hackney which the Electoral Commission estimates will lose their vote. This will have huge consequences as the Government will use the 1 December electoral roll to allocate funds to local councils – thus triggering further cuts in resources, and putting additional pressure on community cohesion.
On 17 November, during the University of Westminster VR drive, Jim Hirschmann, the Student Union President, told me: “I am so happy we can help HOPE not hate with the Democracy Week. There is so little awareness out there.
“I mean how many people, not only students, know that on April 2016, when the Boundary Commission starts work on reducing Parliament from 650 to 600 seats, that progressive, metropolitan areas of London will be under-represented on the electoral roll and have to be merged with surrounding, over-represented rural areas to make up new constituencies? Surely, it will become even harder to get student voices heard.”
Hence, it was encouraging to see that University College London, SOAS, Queen Mary and Brunel University replied so positively to our request to email every student with a reminder of the VR deadline and the link to online registration.
On top of that, voter registration events took place at the University of Westminster, Goldsmiths University, London Metropolitan University, London South Bank University and the University of West London, helping bring our VR reach to 140,000 students.
But this is not a time to be complacent. The fight to get vulnerable individuals and marginalised communities heard can only intensify in the New Year.
Posted: 30 Nov 2015 | There are 0 comments | make a comment/view comments
posted by: Nick Spooner | on: Thursday, 26 November 2015, 09:03
The town of Aylesbury in Buckinghamshire was not an area with particularly high voter registration drop-off. However, recent successes in the Swans for HOPE campaign inspired activists to take to the streets once again to talk to their community about the importance of being on the electoral register.
Initially the Aylesbury College Students Union (ACSU) were hesitant to support the local HOPE not hate group to raise the issue of voter registration on campus. With young people and students falling off the register in their thousands, the SU President has now come to fully support the local group and is using HOPE not hate campaign leaflets to raise awareness within the student body.
The group targeted specific wards and places of worship, including the town’s mosque. The local press published articles to support the campaign. However the biggest triumph was in influencing the town’s library to utilise their computers and central location to run their own voter registration drive!
The local HOPE not hate group has, over the course of a few short months, established good working relationships with a number of community organisations, faith groups and media outlets. This has enabled Aylesbury to challenge one of the single biggest acts of electoral disenfranchisement since womens’ suffrage.
Since the initial threat of the EDL calling their racist and divisive march in Aylesbury in September, the newly established local HOPE not hate group has had a remarkable run at organising in their community on local issues that matter - democratic engagement is another one to add to the list!
Well done to all involved!
Posted: 26 Nov 2015 | There are 0 comments | make a comment/view comments
posted by: Mark | on: Tuesday, 24 November 2015, 13:47
Like many of Britain’s large cities Sheffield is facing a dramatic voter registration fall-off thanks to the fiasco that is the Individual Electoral Registration. However, those familiar with the People’s Republic of South Yorkshire know that Sheffield is not a place to take anything lying down and that includes any attempt to keeping us quiet.
HOPE not hate has helped us to reach out across Sheffield’s communities to tackle the colossal effort that is voter registration and beat the upcoming December deadline. Not even the arrival of storms ‘Abigail’ and ‘Barney’ have been able to dampen our spirits nor blow us of track.
Sheffield’s Electoral Services asked us to hold street stalls across our shopping precincts. Specifically the City centre, Hillsborough and Broomhill; areas that we know have many visitors and also serve communities which face some of the most challenging Voter contact and Voter Registration drop-off issues.
We kicked off the day with street stalls in Hillsborough Precinct and The Moor, both within a stone’s throw of the homes of our two great football teams. Both are busy vibrant parts of Sheffield and gave us great opportunity to spread the message about voter registration. We repeatedly heard that many people were completely unaware of the changes to voter registration. Sheffielders simply didn’t know that they may have lost their vote. However this was not just limited to Sheffield as we found that many visiting Southend United fans were just as ill-prepared for IER.
We later attended The Women’s Fair and Health Festival in Sharrow. Many thanks go to Jane who organised the event and Carolyn who (supplied with cups of tea) spent hours registering people online. We were able to get the University of Sheffield to post a reminder for a voter registration on their student electronic blackboard. Whilst Rose at Sheffield Hallam distributed our leaflets to her students and forwarded a poster to other lectures requesting that they help promote voter registration with all their students.
Thanks to Kaltun who represented the Somali community wonderfully and helped recruit many missing voters and to Faoud who used whatsapp to great effect to contact Sheffield’s Yemeni community. Alongside Max and Simon for their great help spreading the word and handing out thousands of leaflets over the last week.
It is safe to say that democracy is very much alive and kicking in the People’s Republic of South Yorkshire.
Posted: 24 Nov 2015 | There are 0 comments | make a comment/view comments
posted by: Tom Godwin | on: Wednesday, 18 November 2015, 11:40
Braving the Welsh rain, HOPE not hate volunteers were out on the streets of Cardiff and Swansea on Saturday for community-based voter registration drives.
In the rain, community members in Cardiff knocked on doors and informed neighbours of the changes to the system that will see 8000 people drop off the register in their city. Muslims and non-Muslims came together in the morning for a short training session at the local Mosque, before getting out into the community and knocking on doors. The opportunity was also used to invite neighbours back to the Mosque for tea and biscuits.
On Sunday the rain decided to take some time off, and volunteers were back on the streets of Swansea. 6000 people are set to drop off the electoral register in Swansea on 1st December. 3000 of those people are in Swansea West. Volunteers came together for a short training event at a local charity, before hitting the streets and knocking on doors again.
Yes, you aren’t seeing things! This particular Elf was fresh from attempting a world record attempt in Neath for the world’s largest Elf dress-up congregation. While they unfortunately fell just short, we were very happy for his help. He certainly lived up to his industrious reputation.
There is a great civic tradition in Wales. While getting people back on the register ahead of the 1st December is a big task, volunteers across South Wales are stepping up. With Welsh Assembly Elections next year, this campaign is only just beginning.
Following the devastating news from Paris, we could not help but be mindful of the potential for fear and suspicion in our communities. What we found on doorsteps instead was solidarity and positivity. There is no better cure to fear and division than community members coming together around a common cause.
As community activist Stef put it: “People are lush, aren’t they.”
Posted: 18 Nov 2015 | There are 0 comments | make a comment/view comments
posted by: Max Watson | on: Wednesday, 4 November 2015, 11:38
An inner London UNISON branch has launched a voter registration drive in their borough alongside HOPE not hate.
Due to unprecedented governmental changes to voter registration procedures, Lambeth is set to lose over 10% of its electorate this December.
So Lambeth UNISON branch, representing more than 2,000 local government workers, resolved to support HOPE not hates’ voter registration drive and to immediately take the campaign into the communities they serve.
Ruth Cashman, is a librarian who is leading a campaign to prevent the closure of three local Libraries, is organising voter registration days alongside activists already engaged in their communities. She told HOPE not hate:
“We’re working with the council to help register voters on the one hand and at the same time campaigning against their proposals to close vital local services on the other. We can and must do both.”
Jon Rogers, Lambeth UNISON Branch Secretary and a National Executive Council member, vowed to take this issue to the highest level of the union. Jon said:
“It's vitally important that local people are not disenfranchised – especially in any area bearing the brunt of cuts to services.”
The branch is already well engaged in various campaigns and is using their relationships with councillors who have a direct interest in seeing voters back onto the electoral register.
Lambeth has a high proportion of Black residents, many of whom are expected to be part of the missing voters of Lambeth. Because of this, Lambeth activists are coinciding their voter registration activities with the many events organised as part of Black History month in the historically diverse south London borough.
- Sign up to run a voter registration drive - materials can be downloaded here.
- Affiliated your union branch to HOPE not hate - more information is available online here
Posted: 4 Nov 2015 | There are 0 comments | make a comment/view comments