May 20th, 2016
38 Degrees Members Hold EU Referendum Event
By Sarah Murray
Plymouth member, Karen tells us what role she thinks 38 Degrees plays in the EU debate and why it’s such an important one.
We now live in a world where ordinary people and the collective voice they have can really make a difference. 38 Degrees is an organisation that is doing its best to support such involvement, after putting the decision to all its members whether to remain neutral or not in the run up to the EU referendum.
The decision we reached together to commit to neutrality and help get out the facts enabled a local group of 38 Degrees members in Plymouth to help organise an EU debate in collaboration with the local Plymouth University students’ union.
We got a chance to expand our own ideas and opinions, as the debate attracted speakers from a wide range of political persuasions. We got a chance to work through the minefield of online information to speak to real people who were prepared to speak at the debate – an interesting exercise that revealed which political leaders really are keen to engage with their electorates, and which are still stuck in the dark ages of political aloofness.
We got a chance to hear local voices by opening up the questions to local people, over 200 attended the event, and many came armed with questions. Engaging with these people, who may not have considered themselves political activists, meant that we got fifteen new sign ups for 38 Degrees, and a great opportunity to promote the work of 38 Degrees locally.
We got the chance to work alongside the University and our local council to help with voter registration, especially for that vital under-25 demographic.
And we got a chance to collaborate with those lovely people at the students’ union in the Roland Levinsky building that was built with funding specifically to merge university and city life. The Students’ Union were very helpful when we first approached them, and as they shared the same goals are us to engage young people in a neutral environment and help with voter registration, it was easy for us to work together.
So the clear message is that the 200 individuals who attended the event from both city and campus want engagement, they want collaboration, they want to know facts and work out their own opinions.
The next step is to communicate to the other few hundred thousand individuals that their opinion also matters, can be heard, and can influence the decisions which have a direct effect on their own lives. In less than 24 hours we have seen a positive buzz around social media, made new contacts ourselves, and met with like minded people who want to see positive change.
So we are delighted to have played a part in creating a genuinely more participatory atmosphere down in Plymouth, and are looking forward to exploring many more ways of doing so.
Here’s a link to the newspaper article about the event: https://secure.38degrees.org.uk/plymouth-herald-article
PS: To keep up to date with the activities of the 38 Degrees Plymouth local group click here: https://secure.38degrees.org.uk/plymouth-local-group