For the last two years the Foundation has been working with The British Council to launch a new international programme called ‘Active Citizens’.
This got going in earnest towards the end last year. Xenia Davis and I travelled to Bangladesh and Pakistan to help train the first set of trainers there: around 35 in each country.
I discovered today that since last November when we went there the training has been cascaded down to nearly six thousand people! There are now around 350 new social action programmes beginning all over those two countries – in busy urban to remote rural settings.
The programme uses simple principles developed over the years at the Citizenship Foundation. It helps people connect their experience of growing up in a particular culture with the issues that they would like to change. They then consider the decision-making structures in their area, and what they might do to raise awareness of the problem. Through their own collective action and through talking to policy makers they work towards a solution.
Participants in countries around the world will use the basis of this social action project to develop dialogue with each other.
In June I am going to Croatia to help to establish the European element of the programme, which is already alive in Southern Africa as well as Central Asia. Something like 15 European countries are expected to attend and start using the methods we have helped devise for the British Council.
On a personal level I’m still adjusting to the fact that 6,000 people across Asia have been using session ideas that I dreamt up to stimulate local and global citizen actions. Modesty aside, I’m told people love them! After 35 years of writing songs, I’ve finally had a hit…