Charities urged to contribute to Lords civic engagement committee

Written by Matt Ritchie

Charities are being urged to submit evidence to a new Lords select committee on citizenship and civic engagement.

The committee, chaired by Lord Hodgson, was announced in July and will look at the contemporary meaning of citizenship and civic engagement. The committee will consider a range of issues including the state’s role in supporting civic engagement, rights and responsibilities attached to citizenship, and the role of voluntary citizenship schemes like the National Citizen Service.

It will examine the role of ceremonies in encouraging citizenship, the rights and responsibilities attached to citizenship, and the impact of current electoral law on political engagement.

The Select Committee on Citizenship and Civic Engagement will also focus on the state of citizenship education and the role that it plays in creating active citizens, the values that those who live in Britain should share and support, and the relationship between civic engagement and social cohesion.

Lord Hodgson said British society has experienced many changes in recent years, placing new stresses and strains upon it. Citizenship and civic engagement are a vital part of the glue that maintains a cohesive and tolerant society, he said.

“This committee has been established to investigate citizenship in the UK, what it means and whether it should change. We also want to find out if there are barriers preventing people from being more involved, both locally and nationally. We hope to hear from people all over the country who have an interest in this topic, who work with communities who are disengaged as well as from people who are disengaged themselves.”

NCVO has called on charities to share examples of innovations and best practice in the area before the committee’s consultation closes on 8 September. The committee is due to report back by 31 March.

Senior public affairs analyst Chris Walker said the consultation is an important opportunity for charities to demonstrate how they are leading the way in civic engagement.

NCVO wants as many organisations as possible to contribute, Walker said, regardless of their size.

“If you have a good case study that you can contribute, but haven’t provided written evidence to a committee before, it might be worth contacting the committee staff and talking to them about how you can provide what they need,” Walker said. “Charities are often the vehicle for people to engage with society and do their bit to make the world a better place to live in, so we as a sector will obviously have a lot to say.”

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