From the Youth PB Project we have spoken with Liam, who has taken part in the Youth PB processes in Northern Ireland. He talked to us about his experience as a representative of the group of young people who have taken the initiative to promote participatory processes in his town.
According to Liam, before joining the project, he didn’t have the opportunity to work on these types of activities, this being the first participatory budgeting process led by young people in Northern Ireland.
The project started just before the COVID-19 restrictions with a meeting where the group got to know each other and made decisions about the themes, criteria and branding. After making some changes and adapting it to the pandemic situation, it was launched. Of the various topics that were raised to be discussed within the project, the one that Liam was most excited about was sports, health and well-being; since it is something that is given great importance and affects the entire community.
Speaking of future projects in which he would like to introduce participatory budgeting, Liam spoke about the need for this type of budgeting to be increasingly extended to various areas of society and the possibility of more money being allocated, which could help to help the community and bring institutions closer to citizens.
Finally, he highlighted how necessary participatory budgets are, since they serve to help communities obtain what they need and, in addition, they also put people with similar interests in contact, the interest of working for better people’s lives.
From the Youth PP Project we have spoken with Mateusz Wojciesznak, president of the Pole Dialogu Foundation (Warsaw), thus continuing with the cycle of interviews on participatory budgeting.
Mateusz has exposed the work carried out by his foundation in the last ten years to promote citizen participation in the public life of his country and facilitate dialogue between people from the same community with various local and state organizations. Among the programs carried out by the Fundacja Pole Dialogu is the promotion of participatory budgeting, an initiative that, as he himself affirms, needs better promotion among citizens.
The director of the Polish foundation has exposed how difficult it has been to continue the project during the pandemic caused by the SARS-CoV-2 virus. So when normalcy is restored, they will seek to establish a real connection between people and communities. Wojciesznak also wanted to highlight the aspects to be improved in the PP Youth project, among which the scarce participation and dissemination that it has among the civilian population stands out. However, he has been optimistic about the work carried out by organizations such as Medialab UGR and RadioLab in promoting the project.
To end the interview, Mateusz wanted to emphasize the need to be flexible when organizing a participatory budget project. While he has shown the convenience of setting guidelines when working with young people, he is also giving them independence and encouraging their own decision-making.
From the Youth PB project we have had the opportunity to speak in depth with Louise O’Kane, Planner and Head of Engagement at Community Places in Belfast, and one of the main visible figures of this European program on participatory budgeting and youth.
O’Kane has provided an overview of the results of the program in Northern Ireland, and how this initiative had already been launched by his organization years before with excellent results, which have gone beyond mere economic goals, as they have improved the coexistence between the members of the community and her desire to implement more similar programs.
She has also shown her interest in continuing to work on the project, although the departure from the United Kingdom has left an uncertain future for her participation in future editions of the Youth PB Accelerator program.
Finally, she shared some tips for starting a participatory budgeting project in a small community or school.
From the Youth PB project we have had the opportunity to chat in a relaxed way with Jez Hall, director of Shared Future CIC, a British social organization expert in creating bridges between citizens and authorities. Jez is also one of the main figures of the Youth PB Accelerator project, organized by the European Union and aimed at disseminating knowledge about participatory budgeting.
During the interview, Jez gave us his point of view on the importance of participatory budgeting in democratic societies, and how they can be implemented from an early age in educational centers, as well as the impact of the Covid 19 health pandemic on the project.
The director of Shared Future CIC has been open to comment on the difficulties that the exit of his country, the United Kingdom, from the European Union presents when participating in the Youth PB Accelerator program that is reaping such good results in the communities where it has been implanted. However, he is optimistic about the possibilities that the dissemination of these ideas brings when it comes to involving society in civic life. Escucha”Entrevista a Jez Hall – Youth PB Presupuestos participativos” en Spreaker.