The power of Youth in Digital Democracy

29 September 2018 - Published by Herma Otter
As part of its commitment to participatory budgeting and in celebration of 2018 being the year of the young people Angus Council set aside £40,000 GBP for youth focussed work, with £10,000 GBP available for each of the Council’s 4 locality areas.

Building on the development of a youth engagement strategy this project provided a great opportunity to pilot co-design of the process with young people.

Young people (aged 13 - 18) from different backgrounds across Angus worked with youth work staff to decide on the method and type of voting, a name of the process, the age range for voters and methods of communicating PB to others.

All those involved developed skills in working with others as well as an understanding of participatory budgeting and the different types of voting. The development of criteria for applications also encouraged them to explore what youth work outcomes mean to them and issues in their communities.

Bids for funding were sought in early August and a total of 35 groups applied for a share of the funding available. These were assessed by a panel of young people to ensure that projects met the application criteria of contributing to youth work outcomes. Further young people were recruited and trained to assist in this process.

The collective amount of the bids almost doubled the money available in the funding pot at £91,082.57 resulting is a real choice for the voters in deciding which projects to allocate against.

Those eligible to vote were young people from S1 to 18 years old with the overwhelming approach decided on by the co-designers to be via online voting. Votes were therefore cast via the Young Scot website and verification of voters via their Young Scot card number (this is the national entitlement card for young people in Scotland).

Each voter was allowed 3 votes allowing them to vote for more than one project and giving them a great opportunity to have a say on what happens where they live. The voting was live for a 12 day period and a number of events held within schools and local youth cafés to support voters. A total of 1137 votes were cast across Angus.

The successful projects were announced at an event on Thursday 27th September 2018 along with the presentation of certificates to recognise the contribution of the young people involved in the co design.