The project, ‘Voting is a Voice’, was delivered by Henna Asian Women’s Group (HAWG) to raise awareness of the voting system changes and the freedom to choose who to vote for, without influence from others. The project engaged South Asian women in Barnet, Camden, City of Westminster and Harrow, the majority of whom were low-income, private or social renters.
HAWG raised awareness about the new Voter ID requirements online and offline, sharing information via social media, including short videos in multiple South Asian languages, which were promoted through their partner networks. They also printed flyers in different languages that were distributed via their networks and handed out by volunteers. They hosted face-to-face drop-in sessions and online and offline workshops. People were able to attend sessions that suited them in a familiar, local and welcoming environment, including over a cup of tea – an ideal backdrop to ask questions and learn more about the campaign.
HAWG encouraged and empowered women to use their democratic rights and to make decisions about their quality of life and their community.
They helped people to fill out Voter Authority Certificate applications and ran ‘Forms on Friday’ sessions each week to help people with their applications. These sessions ran throughout the day in different community languages, such as Bengali, Urdu, Hindi, Gujarati and Pashto. Being able to communicate with participants in their native language helped to overcome barriers surrounding trust and levels of political literacy.
“We were honest in appreciating their concerns, feelings and fears of yet another barrier to their democratic rights [….] We built and gained trust and respect with communities meaning that those who had reservations about completing the voter registration form, told us they would think about it, do it themselves through the channels we advised or would contact us for support.”
Henna Asian Women’s Group volunteer
“I got help with voter registration online and HAWG staff were very friendly and helpful. I have my photo ID ready to vote.”
“I didn’t know about Voter Photo ID and Henna Asian Women explained to me in my own language. I know I have to take original copy of my passport and not photocopy.”