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Launch event brought civil society from across the UK together to make the case for embracing civil society’s role in democracy.

Edited text from Brexit Civil Society Alliance newsletter by Jacob Millen-Bamford

The Brexit Civil Society Alliance has published its new report, Seizing the Opportunity: The case for embracing civil society’s role in democracy, by Kathryn Sturgeon. Seizing the Opportunity sets out a vision for “A vibrant civil society in which civil society organisations can engage in democratic processes inside and outside of the formal policy sphere”.

This report is needed because civil society organisations are vital to the functioning of democratic policy making. The UK’s future is in a moment of flux as we adjust to the new UK-EU trade deal and tackle the pandemic. To meet these challenges we need to include the views, interests, and evidence from people across the UK. Civil society organisations can help bridge the gap between citizens and the state.

The Brexit Civil Society Alliance’s launch was kicked off by Sue Tibballs (Sheila McKechnie Foundation) who discussed the latest findings of their campaigners survey. This was followed by three interactive breakouts. Jane Thomas (former Brexit Civil Society Alliance Coordinator) led one discussing what meaningful engagement looks like and how organisations can get it. Kristiana Wrixon (ACEVO) held a discussion about the shrinking civic space and heard from participants on how civil society can respond. Anna Nicholl (WCVA) brought lessons from Wales engaging with the devolved administration and what can be taken from that to engaging with Westminster. Finally Ruth Ibegbuna (RECLAIM, Commissioner in the Commission on Civil Society) gave a rousing speech about her experience founding organisations like RECLAIM and what can be achieved when people are fully involved and empowered.