Unlock Democracy, in association with the Electoral Reform Society, is encouraging people to organise a ‘Democracy Drinks’ in their area.
A Democracy Drinks is an informal social evening in a local pub or coffee house for people concerned about democratic reform to discuss how they might work together to campaign locally on these issues. It is a fun, sociable and simple way to get something started in your area.
It will cost you nothing to host a Democracy Drinks (apart from, possibly, a round of drinks) and you have nothing to lose. As you will be meeting in a public place, it is safe too.
Setting up a Democracy Drinks is easy, there are tools on the internet that can help you and we can help you to promote it.
This short guide assumes that there is not already a Democracy Drinks being held in your area (see our Events listings) and that there isn’t a currently active Local Group in your area. If there is, then you might be better off hooking up with them instead.
STEP ONE: Find a friend and ask them to co-host the Drinks with you. That way, even if no-one else turns up, you can still have a good evening.
STEP TWO: Register on the Reform Groups website and explore it to see if there are any other people on the website who live locally to you. If there is, then contact them and see if they might be interested in coming to a Drinks. If you can’t find anyone else living in your constituency, then consider broadening your search to anyone living in your town, city, district or county.
STEP THREE: Decide on a date (give yourself at least a fortnight to promote it) and a good local venue for your Drinks. Your venue should have good transport links and not play loud music that will prevent people from being able to talk.
* It doesn’t have to be a place that sells alcohol - democratic reform in the UK has traditionally been plotted in chocolate houses! You might want to consider meeting in a cafe or even frozen yogurt bar.
STEP FOUR: Promote your event! Put the details of your Drinks on the events section of our website – and make sure you list it as a Democracy Drinks. That way, anyone interested in attending a Democracy Drinks will know where to look. Let us know you’ve added your Drinks there. If you give us at least 14 days’ notice, we’ll do our best to promote it to our local supporters. Put an announcement up on the Reform Groups website.
* Facebook is another great place to advertise your Drinks and makes inviting friends very easy. But don’t just advertise it there; lots of people don’t use Facebook and you can’t access details on it unless you have registered.
* You might also want to promote it via any local internet forums you are aware of or even ask your local newspaper to print a short announcement.
STEP FIVE: Contact everyone you know who might be interested in coming, especially people who you don’t usually discuss politics with. You may be surprised how many other people you know who might be interested.
On the Night
On the evening of the Drinks, do the following:
- Make sure you get there at least 10 minutes early.
- Let the staff know you are there in case anyone asks for you.
- Print out our tabletop sign to make it easy for people to find you.
- Make sure you give people you don’t know a warm welcome and that everyone is introduced to each other.
- Let the conversation flow naturally, but try to focus people’s minds on discussing what you might be able to do locally.
- Make a list of people’s email addresses and phone numbers so you can keep in touch (obviously they shouldn’t feel they have to give their contact details if they don’t want to). We recommend you set up an email group using a service such as Facebook, Yahoo! or Google (these are also free). Send everyone a thank you email with a round up of what was decided at the drinks a few days after the event itself.
...the rest is up to you! You might want to make it a monthly event, or take things more slowly.
In terms of what you might discuss setting up locally, here are some examples:
- Make Democracy Drinks a regular event (we recommend making it a fixed time every month - the first Wednesday of every month for example - so people come to think of it as routine)..
- Initiating a debate in the letters column of a local newspaper
- A group visit to your MP’s surgery to make it clear that they have active constituents who care about democratic reform issues
- A discussion evening with a guest speaker; perhaps a local academic, politician, historian or campaigner.
- Set up a blog to record your activities. You can do this via Reform Groups. Alternatively, there are lots of free services online you can use that can have you up and running in minutes such as Blogger and WordPress
- Setting up a more formal local group (although we don’t recommend you do this until you have a number of activities under your belt first)
For more information about Democracy Drinks and help in taking it a step further, get in touch.