How community groups can rebuild trust in democracy
Trust and engagement with UK politics are at an all time low. People are disconnected from remote national political structures, feeling they have little influence over them.
Our research finds that only 25% of people “trust” Parliament, but 50% trust the overall democratic process. So how can we bridge the divide?
We found trust improves at a local level – with over half of people trusting their local MPs and councillors. The more community based the picture becomes, the better - 93% trust other people in their local area.
Community activity helps bridge the gap by giving people meaningful opportunities to get involved in things that matter to them.
Perceptions of influence increase for those involved in their community. Volunteers are 46% more likely to feel they have an effect locally.
We surveyed hundreds of community organisations and a third of them said that their community involvement led onto more political roles, such as a councillor, school governor, or magistrate. One even went on to become a Deputy Mayor.
So we are calling on government to encourage and enable voluntary work for those not already involved, recognising and supporting the powerful role community groups have in building trust. The Government’s commitment to enabling more volunteering through employers could be a real force for change towards this aspiration, especially if it means more volunteering at a very local level.
Only then can we bridge the divide between people and politics – and start rebuilding trust in democracy.