Listen to this website

The House of Lords has apponted a Select Committee to consider issues of citizenship and civic engagement in the twenty-first century. Committee chair, Lord Hodgson of Astely Abbots said "Britain has experienced many changes in recent years and this has put new stresses and strains upon it. Citizenship and civic engagement are a vital part of the 'glue' that maintains a cohesive and tolerant society". 

The committee has called for evidence (deadline for submissions is this Friday 8 September) asking among other things, what is the meaning of citizenship and civic engagment in contemporary Britain, what are the rights and responsibilties attached to citizenship and what role does the government and society have supporting citizenship? 

Newcastle CVS has made its submission to the Select Committee, reflecting on the experience of communities and voluntary organisations in Gateshead and Newcastle as they have becoming increasingly diverse and fluid places to live and work. Austerity, Brexit and social exclusion have all had an impact on people's attitude and expectations of what citizenship and what it means to be British.

However the activities of voluntary sector organisations, community groups and volunteers make a positive impact and promote tolerance and cohesion in local communties. The motivation of volunteers is more likely to come from the opportunity of doing good, giving back to society or feeling worthwhile. They are unlikely to see their individual actions as part of being a 'British Citizen' or a programme of good citizenship and recommendations from the Select Committee needs to be careful not to over regulate or involve compulsion.