The Foundation encourages and enables participation in our democratic society. It works largely with schools and youth groups, skilling up young people to take on the world around them effectively. It engages thousands of young people every year.
Law is often seen as being against people, rather than as something they have a stake in. The Citizenship Foundation is a leader in the field of public legal education, which is close to my heart. Its Young Citizen’s Passport guide to the law, published by Hodder, is now in its sixteenth edition.
The Lawyers in Schools programme works in classrooms to demystify the legal system. More than 40 top law firms and legal teams serve schools in the UK, and the programme is expanding across the globe: starting with CMS Cameron McKenna in Romania and King & Wood Mallesons in Australia.
The long-running mock trial competitions put young people into real courtrooms to learn about the judicial process, something that potential jurors would benefit from. It reaches more than 7,000 secondary school students, with voluntary support from hundreds of barristers, solicitors, magistrates and judges. I launched their first mock magistrates trial at Bow Street when I was in No 10, and took my children to see the mock crown court trial several times, even judging it once or twice too, so I’ve seen for myself how effective the programme is.
The economy also affects people profoundly, but few understand it. The annual Chance to be Chancellor competition is a fun way for young people to explore public finance, culminating in a trip to the Treasury and a meeting with the Chancellor. Boom, Bust and Crunch is a new teaching resource to help youngsters grapple with the financial crisis. It is supported by FTI Consulting and will be offered to their clients to take into schools.
Volunteering and social entrepreneurship are developed through the Go-Givers and Giving Nation programmes. Since 2007, these have mobilised nearly 12,000 primary school children and reached more than 200,000 students in secondary education.
The Foundation works in the community, too. Its InterACT programme brought youth groups together with young refugees and asylum-seekers, dissolving barriers by collaborating for the good of their communities.
Make it our Neighbourhood is a pilot scheme with Land Lease, in which students from a school in Southwark will explore the impact of regeneration on local communities. They will then work with Land Lease on their own ideas for the Elephant and Castle development.
Above all, the Foundation is a tireless campaigner for citizenship education, believing everyone has the right to understand how the world works and to opportunities for getting involved; and that no-one has the right to exclude others from our democracy.
The Citizenship Foundation played a leading role in campaigning successfully to keep citizenship education on the National Curriculum, in spite of government plans to take it off. It continues to lobby for such important education to be taken seriously at all levels of society.
Times are tough for charities, and it won’t be easy. But, with funders such as The Law Society, Esmee Fairbairn Foundation, Paul Hamlyn Foundation and the Social Action Fund, and partners like BBC Worldwide, the Bar Council, Linklaters, Sky, and my own Matrix Chambers, there is solid support for the Foundation’s work.
That’s an exciting set of activities to get your teeth into. I highly recommend it.
Citizenship Foundation Chair job description and application form.
Application deadline: Wednesday 11 September
Interviews: Monday 23 September