Thumbprint Camden

  • 2009

Increasing participation in local democracy.

“We are 6 mums and we'd like to plead with you about giving the Winch Project funds so it could carry on the wonderful activities for children. Please as it is the only chance for all low income families. Please.”

“The typical participants in local decisions … are more likely to be white, older, better educated, richer, middle-class males.” according to a review of the evidence on participation [1].

In Autumn 2009, Camden council gave £10 000 to each ward in the borough and asked the people living there to decide how to spend it. The decision was to be made through a process of discussion and voting organised by ward councillors.

Councillors Alexis Rowell and Tom Simon decided to use Thumbprint to do something about the imbalance in participation in their ward, Belsize, and to involve as many people as they could in the local decision making process.

Alexis and Tom were certain that using Thumbprint opened the door for people like the "6 mums" quoted above who wouldn't otherwise have taken part in the process.

Councillor Alexis Rowell said afterwards

“Using Thumbprint definitely led to a net increase in participation in the democratic process in Belsize. It probably almost doubled the participation in the local area forum vote.”

Thumbprint is a platform for prototyping, developing and sustaining socially valuable uses of texting.

Based in experience going back as far as 2001, it has the set of built-in features that most groups and organisations typically need.

[1] http://www.involve.org.uk/understanding-participation-a-literature-review/