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Get on the Bus

A report from the office of David Ward MP

Get on the Bus

During the summer of 2013 , David Ward, the Member of Parliament for Bradford East and his team went on a tour of his constituency. The aim of the tour was to talk to young people aged between 16 and 24 living in some of the most deprived parts of the country about what matters to them, to encourage them to register to vote and to find issues they could campaign to change together. This report tells the story of our project. 1

Project Background
There is much evidence to support the view that that young people perceive politics as dull, boring and irrelevant, difficult to access and politician as remote, and that young people have low levels of interest in and knowledge of politics. (White, Bruce, Ritchie 2000). Bradford East is no exception. In our constituency there are around 24,0000 young people, over a quarter of the population is aged between 16 and 29. There are also an estimated 12,000 people who are not registered to vote. Research by IPSOS Mori, 2010 found; There are clear at risk groups in voting, registering and engagement young people, ethnic minorities, lower social grades etc. Promotion of engagement and knowledge among these groups should be focused on. It is in places like Bradford East that unless work is done to encourage participation then decision-making risks being unrepresentative. Against that background that the Get on the Bus project was born. The project linked together an MPs Office Team with the Councils Youth Services and young volunteers to encourage participation in areas with multiple deprivations, some with a high number of young people of a South East Asian heritage; others an almost exclusively white British heritage. Working with the Member of Parliament for Bradford East the project worked with young volunteers recruited from across our community to engage with other young people to identify what are their top issues. The volunteers were supported by the MPs constituency team, fully trained and apprentice Youth Workers. Young people were encouraged to Get on the Bus to discuss their issues, develop a local manifesto and participate in voter registration and budgeting activities using materials from the Bite the Ballot Campaign. 2

Youth workers, volunteers and Davids constituency staff team were involved in designing the project and were trained together to use the Bite the Ballot materials. Participants were each given a facilitators guide and encouraged to use the materials in different settings.

Preparation work
The team designed the logo to be used on our T-shirts and badges. We designed questionnaires to use in the street with young people.

We used as a base for our project a single-deck bus which was hired from a local community project, Hale (Health Action Local Engagement). This gave us somewhere to meet, carry out work with young people and for Davids casework team a place to provide a mobile surgery. Barbar was our driver, our biggest supporter, our Mr Fix-it and our very welcome King of the Teapot! 4

Bradfords Youth

Working with the Elections Unit at Bradford Council we launched Bradfords Youth Voter Registration Form. Qamer Maqsood and Maryam Sajid signed up the first young person in Bradford to use the new form.

Young Persons Voter Registration Form

Voter Registration

Bradford Community Broadcasting agreed to partner the project by broadcasting one pre-recorded and two live shows each week. This enabled us to record and share what young people were telling us. With the help of Daniel Carroll, BCBs Youth Radio Worker and his volunteers we broadcast a mix of music, views from young people, discussions and live questions. Young people were invited to participate in live broadcast discussions and ask questions through social media. Young volunteers used I-pads, their phones and dicta-phones to collect interviews in the streets. These were emailed to Daniel for broadcast.

Bite the Ballot

Bite the Ballot is a campaign created by young people to inspire others to speak up and be a part of the decisions that directly affect them. Michael Sani, Chief Executive of Bite the Ballot came to Bradford to teach volunteers, youth workers and David Wards staff team how to use the Bite the Ballot materials. Our original intention was to use the Bite the Ballot materials in the streets but this proved difficult to organise (weather, nerves of the participants, space required) so we moved indoors to youth clubs where it worked much much better. Davids staff team ran some sessions as did some of the youth workers. Youth workers have been trained, have the materials and plan to run more sessions in the future. Davids team are using the materials with post-16 students in local schools.

Places we visited

What the people said..

Good to work together in partnership. Brought a real understanding of democracy to young people. Looking forward to doing more work together in the future. Paul Johnson, Area Manager, Bradford East Youth Services

Really great! Brought real life perspectives on the importance of voting. Showed young people how they do not have any power if they dont register to vote. Really enjoyed the session. Paula Helliwell, Social Action Lead, National Citizenship Programme

This is exactly what community broadcasting is all about. Going out into communities and talking to them about the issues they care about. We want to roll it out across other parts of Bradford. Dani Carroll, BCBs Youth Radio Worker


We dealt with Davids casework on the bus. People were really surprised that we had the systems all set up on a bus. A great - if unusual was to run surgeries. Exhausting but fun. Rachel Sunderland, Senior Caseworker

As a young person from Bradford studying politics, it was very interesting to see first hand Davids efforts to try and engage more young people with politics in the city. Michael Powell, Volunteer

It was really interesting. Ive never done anything like this before. I learnt a lot about politics and am going to keep in touch. Im looking at the news to see whats happening in the community. Its given me knowledge. I wasnt really interested before. Ive learnt lots of different skills about meeting and interacting with people. Kaneez Fatima, Volunteer

Everyone says it is important for politicians to engage more with young people but the question is, how? I have one of the busiest constituency offices in the country but young people are not queuing up outside the door! The answer to the question is to go to where young people are i.e. on the streets, in the parks, in the youth centres. And when you do engage with them what do you find? You find that they are interested in issues, they do have opinions and they do want to be heard. To the hundreds of young people that we met I would like to say a big "thank you" for your time and courtesy. My team and I had a great summer - and I look forward to repeating it next year! David Ward MP 11

This summer has been an exhilarating, exhausting, exciting experience which has left me at times deeply moved by the challenges faced by young people and optimistic for their ability to take on those challenges in equal measure. It would not have been possible without the financial support of the many people who are listed individually or collectively below. Rajeev Deweedi Seafresh Foods CFA Projects Jaz Athwal Alan Griffen John Cole John Briggs Alun Griffiths John Pashley Jennifer Pearson Lord William Wallace Edward Mac Millan Scott MEP Rebecca Taylor MEP Local businesses and residents of Bradford East

Thank you