How to run a citizens' assembly

A handbook for local authorities based on the Innovation in Democracy Programme


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The Innovation in Democracy Programme (IiDP) was funded and run by the Department for Digital Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) and the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG). It supported Dudley Metropolitan Borough Council, Test Valley Borough Council and the Greater Cambridge Partnership (GCP) to involve residents in decision-making through an innovative model of deliberative democracy - citizens’ assemblies. The citizens’ assemblies took place between September and December 2019.

As a team of delivery partners – Involve, The Democratic Society, the RSA and mySociety – we have written this handbook based on our experiences delivering the IiDP. It is aimed primarily at local authority officers or councillors who want to run a citizens’ assembly in their local area (when we refer to ‘you’ throughout the report, this is the group we have in mind), but we hope it will be useful to any authority or institution which is considering using a citizens’ assembly to actively involve people in tough or complex policy questions.

This report is aimed primarily at local authority officers or councillors who want to run a citizens’ assembly in their local area.

But we also hope that it can be of use to others who are interested in deliberative democracy: process designers, facilitators, advocates, researchers or anyone else.

While some of the guidance is specific to local citizens’ assemblies, lots of the suggestions apply to regional, national and even transnational deliberations.

The insights we share in this report are drawn from three different sources:

  • Our reflections on the three IiDP citizens’ assemblies and other assemblies that have recently taken place at a local level.
  • The ideas that have emerged from the various peer-learning events that we ran as part of IiDP.
  • The best guidance written by practitioners around the world.

Lots of the advice in this report is illustrated in the IiDP Case Studies report, which is a trove of real-world examples and personal stories co-authored by council staff that led the three IiDP assemblies.

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Cite this

(2020). How to run a citizens' assembly. [online] mySociety Research. Available at: https://research.mysociety.org/publications/how-run-citizens-assembly [Accessed 3 Jul 2020].