Back to basics: end of an era, start of a new one

Posted in  by Matt CM
July 8, 2021

As many of our supporters know well, funding has been the nut we’ve been trying to crack for a while. Personally I’ve been trying to balance growing Vote for Policies with earning a living, and for many years I have been working only part time (or not at all!) to make space for the work this requires.

The past two years have been particularly intensive. Myself and co-director Leon have been developing the strategy and funding plan, and making inroads into ways VfP can generate its own income. All the while keeping the Tracker up to date, creating new partnerships, and reaching a wider audience. But the reality is that we’ve run out of time - and that’s despite the very generous support from you and the many other fervent VfP fans who stepped up when we asked for help. I was blown away by the generosity of all the donors, but unfortunately donations were never going to be the answer in the long term, and without sizeable financial backing we can’t grow our capacity or our impact. We haven’t got that backing, and we are no longer able to work full time in order to find it.

So it’s back to basics - at least for now. Time to strip things back and focus on the pre-election survey, and continue as a purely volunteer-run organisation. How VfP used to be!

What’s changing

Tracker out - Survey in! The Youth Policy Tracker is very intensive to run. It requires a constant cycle of monitoring and updating policies with whatever changes have been happening. There have been no other trackers in the UK for several years now, and compared to the few others around the globe we’ve taken a particularly comprehensive and detailed approach to writing accessible summaries, as well as linking each policy to ways you can find out more and take action - because having your say is what democracy is about. Vital as it is as a tool to engage people between elections - and not least for basic transparency and accountability - we haven’t been able to get the funding we need to continue doing it at scale.

You may not know, but the Tracker has been the work of Leon Prescod, who personally oversaw the work of the hundreds of volunteers to analyse all 690 policies in the governments’ 2017 manifesto in time for the 2019 election, and who has been solely responsible for the monitoring and researching the policies on the current site. It’s an incredible legacy, and I’d like to say a huge thanks and congratulations to Leon for what he created.

We both hope that other budding trackers out there will be inspired to continue the work, and the website code remains available for any others that want to set up their own tracker.

Vote for Policies isn’t going away, we’re scaling it back to what it was before - a pre-election survey. We’re rebuilding the survey at the moment, so we’ll continue to work with the volunteer developers, led by Amy, to make it available again soon and ensure it’s even better for the next election.

It also means we won’t be continuing to develop our YouTube channel, which was the brainchild of, and expertly delivered by, Video Dave. Ditto with the engaging social media work that Tim has been doing on Instagram and Facebook, creating lots of discussion, and sharing positive messages about how YOUR voice matters.

We aren't going away. We’re still the VfP team. We're just going back to basics, and keeping our powder dry until the next election...

In the meantime thanks again for your support, and remember... your voice matters.