National community organising charity, Citizens UK, has today announced its plans to register 50,000 people to vote ahead of the General Election, as part of its charitable commitment to developing the capacity of people to participate in public life.
The announcement follows recent reports suggesting that as many as one million people may not be registered to vote, with particular concern that hundreds of thousands of young people have not engaged with the new system of voter registration, and some individuals who thought they were registered, potentially discovering too late that they have ‘dropped off’ the electoral register.
Citizens UK is an alliance of 400 schools, churches, mosques, synagogues, colleges, unions and voluntary sector groups reaching approximately half a million people. They have joined forces with partner organisations, Bite the Ballot and 38 Degrees, who combined, have pledged to register at least 250,000 voters.
Neil Jameson, Director, Citizens UK said:
“Our members believe it is a privilege and a responsibility to be an active citizen, and that the vote is the starting point of a healthy democracy.
“During National Voter Registration Week, 2nd – 8th February, teams from our member institutions will be encouraging their friends, family, neighbours and colleagues to register to vote, and just as importantly, check that they are still registered to vote.
“Throughout the week we’ve got hundreds of activities happening from voter registration checks after services in St. Swithuns Church, South London to primary school children in Tottenham taking part in democracy workshops before voter registration door knocking on their estate. A group of our Muslim members in Cardiff have pledged to each ask 40 of their closest neighbours to check and register, whilst first time voters in Nottingham will be hosting events in their Students Unions and canvassing student houses to encourage them to register.
“We’ve pledged to ensure 50,000 voters will check and register, allowing them to take part in the general election. As a non-partisan organisation we don’t seek to influence who people vote for, but that they participate and engage.”
Citizens UK works with many schools and colleges, and in London, a number of first time voters are gearing up to delivering a series of events to encourage their peers to register.
Hadia Alhalaki, Citizens UK member and student at City and Islington College, North London said:
“I am a proud British citizen. My parents had to make a choice to leave their friends and family in the Yemen and move to the UK. I feel privileged that this May I will be able to freely exercise my democratic right to vote.
“Democracy is a luxury not everyone has access to. It’s in our interest as young people to take part in the voting process and make sure our voice is heard over issues such as jobs and housing. If we want to hold the people in power to account then we have to engage with the process.
“Throughout the first week of February I will be explaining why voting is important to my fellow students and encouraging them to register to vote.”
Below is a small selection of Voter Registration Events happening across the Citizens UK network. Please contact the Citizens UK organiser to arrange filming, photography and interviews.
4th & 5th February, young people will be leading a voter registration drive at Coulsdon College, Croydon. Contact James Asfa, South London Citizens m 07739914225
6th February, Nottingham Citizens will be working with the local network of masjids to use Friday prayers to check and register voters at a number of mosques across Nottingham. Contact Lydia Rye, Nottingham Citizens m 07939598973
4th & 5th February, young people will be leading a voter registration drive at City and Islington College, North London, before a celebratory march on 5th February along Upper Street to Islington Town Hall. Contact Promise Knight, North London Citizens m 07931228713
February 14th action in Cathays ward, Cardiff which has only 30% voter registration at the moment. Mass door knocking exercise. Contact Jonathan Cox, Citizens Cymru Wales m 07919484066
For press enquiries please contact Gillian Owen, head of media, Citizens UK
e firstname.lastname@example.org m 07876246150