The pilot Active Learning for Active Citizenship projects, which aimed to give people the confidence, know-how and skills to engage with public bodies and influence services, have shown that the initiative is on the right course. Active Learning for Active Citizenship is part of the government’s ‘Together We Can’ action plan to involve people more in the decisions that affect their communities. The report, published by the Department for Communities and Local Government, shows that the learning programmes have helped people become more active and empowered in their communities. The initiative is now being rolled out nationally.The pilots, involving over 1,300 participants, were carried out in seven regional hubs: the Black Country, Greater Manchester, Lincolnshire, London, the South West, South Yorkshire, and Tees Valley. They have been hosted by organisations including the WEA in Sheffield, Exeter CVS and London Civic Forum.
Almost 300 people who took part in the pilots have gained accredited qualifications, from Open College qualifications to university level credits. Some have gone on to further or higher education and training. An unexpected impact has been that people who have been out of formal education for a long time have been led back to it through the informal, professional and stable learning process. Some have gone on to train as trainers and other others have progressed into employment or have gained new jobs through ALAC .
The report quotes an example of one participant who left university with a degree but thought she had no employable skills. Her ALAC course helped her recognise her skills and achieve her current job in community work. Another participant, who had been out of work and on disability benefits for 10 years managed to move from her previous career in clerical work into a managerial role. People have learnt about governance structures, including the roles and responsibilities of elected officials from local to EU level and about how to communicate with them. Some have become involved themselves, for example in Community Forums, as school governors or on Patients’ Forums.
A learning framework with guidance for those wishing to deliver ALAC programmes will be published in Autumn 2006.
The ALAC hubs will shortly develop a national network to take the initiative forward.