Today (17 April 2020) People’s History Museum (PHM) launches a new project that invites young people to connect with and explore what democracy means to them. Vital Voters is a way for under 18s to experience for themselves what a powerful force for change democracy can be. The project has been developed by the team at the national museum of democracy, with the support of UK Parliament, Speaker’s Art Fund and Nesta’s Amplified fund.
To understand the workings and possibilities that democracy presents, you have to live it for yourself, and Vital Voters is designed to inspire the thinking and imagination of young people, so they can do just this. It launches on the anniversary of the date (17 April 1969) that the 1969 Representation of the People Act was passed, which lowered the voting age in the UK from 21 to 18. With young people becoming active citizens at a much earlier age, the future of the voting age as it stands is one of the topics that some might explore through Vital Voters.
Vital Voters is a digital project first and foremost, with all the resources and information available online to enable young learners to take part, whether in the classroom or at home. This means the current Covid-19 lockdown will not get in the way of democracy.
Participants are taken through the past, present and future of democracy in Britain so that they can see where it has come from, the difference it can make, and how it can underpin progress and change. Colourful digital content, that includes animations and short films, forms the backdrop. Some of this has been created by the Vital Voters vloggers Samuel, Jonah, George, Ellie, Kayleigh and Rhiannon, who are all students at Westleigh School in Leigh. Their reports follow a journey that takes them from the archives at People’s History Museum to the steps of 10 Downing Street. You can view their films here: https://phm.org.uk/vital-voters/past/
Vital Voters vlogger Ellie, a Year 9 student from Westleigh School in Leigh, says, “I believe that the youth do have the power to make their voices heard if they just had the opportunity. They are more powerful than they know and, with help, they will grow into the generation who revolutionises life on Earth. As a member of the Vital Voters project, I firmly believe that the youth can change the future but it starts in the present.”
Vital Voters are challenged to consider how they can bring about change through the creation of a campaign film. Once submitted the very best will appear online as part of a gallery of Vital Voters campaigns.
To give inspiration to those taking part, a series of shorts has already been created, which can be viewed here: https://phm.org.uk/vital-voters/future/. Working with People’s History Museum, groups of students from Westleigh School in Leigh have captured the issues that matter to them; Football Racism, Help Hedgehogs Now! and Invest in Railways.
Katy Ashton, Director of People’s History Museum, says, “Vital Voters has been innovatively created to empower young people, so that they are not just learning about democracy and parliamentary processes, but also have a platform to share their own ideas to give a voice to what matters to them, in a bid to bring about change. As the national museum of democracy, we have great ambitions for this project and the impact that it can have with young people.”
Vital Voters is open to anyone under 18 to participate, with schools in Greater Manchester also being offered the opportunity to book a Vital Voters workshop. These will take place at People’s History Museum for students from Key Stage 2 to Key Stage 4, and are expected to begin as soon as the current situation allows.
To find out more about Vital Voters and how to take part visit https://phm.org.uk/vital-voters/. Greater Manchester schools can also register interest in a Vital Voters workshop by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
People’s History Museum is currently closed due to COVID-19, but you can stay in touch by visiting phm.org.uk, signing up to the e-newsletter, subscribing to the blog, or following the museum on social media on Twitter @PHMMcr, Facebook @PHMMcr, and Instagram @phmmcr.
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A selection of images can be found here: https://www.dropbox.com/sh/o4hqjwuq0x5kwl3/AACo08z6DX7_mx64kQJS5NFxa?dl=0
About People’s History Museum (PHM)
People’s History Museum (PHM) in Manchester is the national museum of democracy, telling the story of its development in Britain: past, present, and future. The museum provides opportunities for all people to learn about, be inspired by and get involved in ideas worth fighting for; ideas such as equality, social justice, co-operation, and a fair world for all. PHM offers a powerful programme with annual themes; 2018 looked at representation and commemorated 100 years since the first women and all men won the right to vote in Britain, in 2019 the focus was on protest to mark the bicentenary of the Peterloo Massacre in Manchester, the programme for 2020 is on the theme of migration and 2021 will explore disabled people’s rights and activism. Previous winner of Kids in Museums Family Friendly Museum Award.
PHM’s Vital Voters project is supported by the following organisations:
With thanks to Nesta for supporting the Vital Voters project via their Amplified fund which supports cultural and creative organisations seeking to develop digital ideas that improve the lives of others. nesta.org.uk
The Speaker’s Art Fund
The Speaker’s Art Fund has awarded People’s History Museum grant funding to support the Vital Voters project. The Speaker’s Art Fund was founded in 1929 by Speaker Whitley and has been a charitable trust since 2004. The Fund promotes public knowledge and understanding of the system of government and of the constitutional and political history of the UK, with particular reference to the historical and continuing role of parliament. This is achieved through the collection and display of works of art and other related activities. Website
UK Parliament Education and Engagement
The UK Parliament Education and Engagement Team seeks to inform and educate young people about the work and role of the UK parliament through their award winning education services. Working alongside schools, colleges and communities across the UK, the service promotes an understanding of both the House of Commons and House of Lords. The Education and Engagement Team work on a variety of public facing campaigns, ranging from UK Parliament Week and the EqualiTeas programme to Vote 100 and the Your Story, Our History film series. Further information on the learning opportunities at UK Parliament can be found here.