Event Evaluation 2008 Darlington Borough Council

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					                          Event Evaluation 2008

                        Darlington Borough Council




Key facts

   Event:                 I’m a Councillor, Get me out of here!
   Website:               www.bigvote.org.uk
   Purpose:               Improving the relationship between young people and local
                          government
   Dates:                 6-17th October 2008 (to coincide with Local Democracy
                          Week)

   Participating
   Councillors:           Cllr   Chris McEwan         46%
                          Cllr   Jenny Chapman        24%
                          Cllr   Mike Barker          17%
                          Cllr   Kate Davies          10%
                          Cllr   Cyndi Hughes         2%
                          Cllr   Gill Cartwright      0%

                          Winner: Cllr Chris McEwan

1) Statistics
(For your council, compared to UK averages)

                         Your council         Ranking            UK Averages
                                             (out of 21)    2008      Previous years
Registered users             498                1st          203           128
Votes cast                   562                1st          181            92
Questions asked              524                5th          331           168
Votes per user               1.13               5th          0.9            0.7
Questions per user           1.05               17th         1.7            1.4
Log ins per user             2.78               5th          2.3            2.3
Page views                  13,479              1st         6,219          n/a
Live chat, lines by
students                    11,115               1st        2,279         1,194
Live chat, lines by
cllrs                        1,618               1st        375            205


(key: Blue numbers = above average, Red numbers = below average)
 in ranking: Blue numbers = top 5, Red numbers = bottom 5)
For more information, please contact Sophia Collins
Sophia@gallomanor.com
01225 869413
                                                                                    2


2) Commentary

Darlington did stupendously well this year. As you can see from the statistics, you
had more young people registered, more page views and more said in live chat
than any other council. Often you’ve got more than double the average activity
levels – nearly five times the average for chat by young people. When you
consider that this was Darlington’s first year of taking part, and that your
population is a fraction of many of our councils, it’s even more impressive.

Frankly, we can’t praise you highly enough. We are certain that much of this
success was down to the dedication and organisation of the staff responsible for
the event at the council. As an example, in the run up to the event Gallomanor
needs various information from councils – logos, names of competing councillors,
etc – Darlington was usually the first to supply this, always in correct formats,
etc. Staff were always good-humoured, organised, paid attention to details, took
responsibility and knew what they were talking about but were also willing to
learn from our experience.

The success in Darlington must also be partly due to the sterling efforts of
councillors, who were committed, cheerful and down-to-earth and did a great job
of communicating with young people at their level, without patronising them. And
of course, teachers and young people themselves put in a lot of effort. We wish
all councils were like you!

The young people of Darlington were fiery and made sure their personalities
shone through in the chatrooms and in their line of questioning. The same can be
said for the councillors too though! The councillors notably had fun, and worked
well together to act as a team. We saw in Darlington some of the most adoring
fans emerge over the fortnight and the finalists had a lot in their inbox to, in their
own words ‘make their heads grow big.’

Topics
It was almost certainly local facilities that were of biggest priority for the young
people of Darlington. Not only was there demand for more youth clubs in ‘Darlo’
but for ones with the right music, facilities and clientele. Students protested that
whilst they recognised investment in such schemes in the past, they just weren’t
cool enough, or they were full or ‘undesirables’. What became apparent was that
the council needed to provide different services and facilities for different types of
young people. There was an obvious frustration that different identities are not
recognised in the current council provision.

Sadly too there was a lot of concern in Darlington about safety. Rather than
objecting to a watchful eye, young people were calling for more, better CCTV.
Many wanted to share their stories of feeling scared and various confrontations. It
certainly gave the councillors food for thought.

Some students thought of different insightful questions. Username ‘Pickles’ asked
Cllr Cyndi Hughes (of American origin) how she felt about the BNP ‘saying all
people who came to england should go back to where they came from.’ A regular
in the chat-room Zachri made sure he asked all the councillors whether they liked
cookies. When asked by the moderators why he had chosen to vote for Cllr Mike
Barker- Zachri simply stated he had given the best answer to the cookie question!
Maybe something to think about for their future manifestos!

Analysis of the result
Cllr Chris McEwan romped home to victory in Darlington. He won with a large
share of the votes, because we are told, he promised the young people things

For more information, please contact Sophia Collins
Sophia@gallomanor.com
01225 869413
                                                                                3
that they wanted such as the scheme ‘small trees’ and cheaper bus fares on
Saturdays. Jenny Chapman was the runner up and was not short of her own
admirers. As username ‘Jenny Lover’ so enthusiastically puts; “Dear Jenny. Your
views are amazing I take in everything you say... your the best Councillor. I
would follow you on your ideas everywhere you go. Your my idol!”

Jenny had been especially committed to the event, spending a great deal of time
in the chat room engaging warmly with students, patiently answering their
questions and showing an interest in their opinions. We feel sure that this
commitment has paid dividends in terms of how those young people feel about
the council and whether they feel included and valued in their community.



3) What was the breakdown of questions asked in your council?

                                               %            National
    Question Category                                       Average
    About you and being a councillor                  32%        24%
    Crime and Anti-social behaviour                   13%        11%
    Education                                         13%        10%
    Transport and the Environment                     7%         13%
    Youth Issues                                      3%          8%
    General                                           11%        16%
    Local Facilities                                  23%        17%




4) Which schools and youth groups participated?

Schools/youth groups with more than ten registered users:-

Hummersknott School                                   145
Hurworth Comprehensive                                136
Education Village                                     118
Branksome Comprehensive School                        35
Queen Elizabeth Sixth Form College                    18


Schools/youth groups with fewer than ten registered users:-

Carmel RC
Harrowgate Hill Primary
Heighington Primary
Springfield Primary
Darlington Youth Service


Note – this may be misleading, because in some cases (e.g. with younger
children, or where only one computer is available) teachers or youth workers may
not register all the young people, but will log in themselves and ask questions on
behalf of the group.



For more information, please contact Sophia Collins
Sophia@gallomanor.com
01225 869413
                                                                                  4
5) What is the event?

I’m a Councillor is a web event that gets young people and councillors talking. It’s
an effective engagement tool which uses web technology like live chats which
teenagers are familiar with. The aim is to de-mystify and humanise local
democracy for young people, give councillors an insight into how young people
feel and increase links between councils and schools.

This is the sixth year of the event where students read councillors’ manifestos,
have live chats with them online, submit questions and vote for the one they like.
The councillors with the fewest votes are evicted until only one is left. That
councillor is elected, ‘Youth Champion’ for the area.

Gallomanor is driven by a desire to increase citizens involvement in civil society
with effective, innovative, and fun projects. We produce projects like: I’m a
Councillor, Get me out of here! which connects young people with their elected
representatives; CivicSurf and CivicSurf:Coaching which inspire and inform civic
leaders to become effective online communicators; and LifeSwap which shines a
light on the lives of disadvantaged young people.

With seven years experience of working in digital engagement we are able to
provide advice and strategic planning for organisations wanting to create
community conversations in the 21st century.



6) How did the event go, overall, in 2008?

This was another successful year for I’m a Councillor. Sadly, for various reasons,
fewer councils decided to take part in I’m a Councillor this year than last, but
most of the ones who did have been so busy that overall activity levels are
comparable.

Councils have been getting busier and busier, with the average number of users,
questions asked, etc rising every year. This is partly down to the hard work of
council officers, councillors and teachers. Familiarity and word of mouth are also
clearly a factor, councils tend to be busier when running the event a second year.
This is partly because planning is easier and more effective when everyone knows
what to expect. And teachers and students, having taken part once, don’t need
persuading the second time. We like to think the increasing numbers are also due
to the improved service we offer and our greater experience.

But we should also acknowledge that over the years we have been running the
event, there has been considerable investment in schools IT infrastructure.
There’s also been a natural growth of IT-literacy among teachers and young
people. These factors mean that it is every year it gets easier for teachers and
classes to take part in an event like this – it’s now less difficult to book time on
school computers and less training or explanation is needed of how to use the
site.

Some key stats

                                              2008                  2007
Average users per council                      203                   165
Total Questions asked                         6,961                 6,689
Total logins                                  9,836                10,350
No. participating councils                     22                    32
Total users                                   4,266                 4,958

For more information, please contact Sophia Collins
Sophia@gallomanor.com
01225 869413
                                                                               5



There will be more detailed feedback and analysis in the overall event
evaluation report. This will include feedback from young people,
teachers, councillors and council staff. We regret that, due to the
numbers involved, it is not possible to provide a breakdown of feedback
for each council.




Thank you for taking part in I’m a Councillor this year, we hope you found it a
useful exercise. Please feel free to contact us at any time if you would like any
further information.




For more information, please contact Sophia Collins
Sophia@gallomanor.com
01225 869413

				
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