About deeper democracy


We believe the way to protect democracy is with more democracy.

A deliberative and participatory democracy that includes the voices of all citizens and communities.

We are an informal group with a shared background in participatory practice who are passionate about deepening democracy.

By participatory practice we mean activities such as:

    • Community Development
    • Community Organising
    • Deliberative Citizen involvement and decision making

This is not an exclusive list. In all activities we aim to embrace both traditional and digital methods

We use events and online discussion to collaborate on projects, share information and ideas, publish, and engagewith other organisations, academics and politicians.

How People Join
Our ambition is to remain an informal and fluid group but to grow and involve more people who share our interests and values. We are committed to promoting and encouraging a greater diversity in the group.

Vision and Purpose

  • Supporting those working to make our existing democratic system more inclusive, open and representative.
  • Incorporating participatory and deliberative processes at all levels of governance, from the very local to national and international.
  • Using knowledge and experience of participatory practice as an important contribution to deepening democracy.
  • Being critical friends of participatory practice, wherever it falls short of authentic empowerment of citizens and fails to address structural, social and economic imbalances of power.
  • Linking and working in partnership with other people and organisations who share our goals.

Values and Principles

To ensure that participatory practice is grounded in citizen empowerment, we promote the following principles.

  • Citizens (residents and community groups) are key players and should be involved in testing each proposal or activity so that the approach is responsive and accountable to citizens.
  • Critical review is essential to ensure that change can occur. We need to move beyond platitudes and be willing to challenge real barriers to achieving change.
  • We will emphasize the deficit of capital, money, capacity and resources for communities to play an equal and active role in participation/democratisation,
  • We will address issues of diversity and anti-oppressive practice
  • We will remain vigilant in regard to pressures of co-option and incorporation by making these pressures visible as and when we meet them as a means to learn rather than a limitation on what we do.

We came together to produce the pamphlet  ‘Participation at 45°: techniques for citizen-led change’ about about the role of participatory practice in deepening democracy.  Published by Compass in 2020.

We collaborate with organisations such as Compass, The Centre for Welfare Reform and Unlock Democracy.

If you want to know more please get in contact. 

Group Members

Avila Kilmurray: Director of the Community Foundation 1994-2014 and author of ‘Community Activism in a Contested Society’ (2017)

Bob Rhodes: Ernst & Young Social Entrepreneur of the Year (2003), leads on Social Services at Centre for Welfare Reform, author of “Much More to Life than Services”.

Brian FisherGP, championing participatory democracy and community development across the NHS and Local Authorities. Chair of New NHS Alliance.

Colin Miller:  convener Deeper Democracy. Ex CD practitioner & manager. Writes about democratic issues and role of participatory practice in deepening democracy. 

Diane Warburton:   involved with citizen, community participation, specialises in evaluation of public deliberative projects at national level sustainable development.

Eileen Connan active citizen in local planning issues in London. Particular interest in strengthening active citizens infrastructure to bring local knowledge into decision making.

Gabriel Chanan: researcher and theorist focusing on community development relation to health and well-being 

Helena Kettleborough: Former CD manager and practitioner, works for Earth as Community. Teaches responsible enterprise and sustainability at Manchester Metropolitan University

Henry Tam:  political theorist and lecturer. Books include ‘Time to Save Democracy’, ‘Communitarianism’, and ‘Whose Government is it?’.

Jane Foot   Community organiser and activist. She was an early advocate of asset based public health practice.

Matt Scott: Community Development Practitioner and lecturer. Chair of  editorial board Community Development Journal 

Nick Beddow: Community development worker and manager. Former CEO of the Community Development Exchange.

Nick Gardham: community organiser and CEO of Community Organisers. 


Community responses to C19 in   Barking and Dagenham 

Neighbourhood Democracy:  contribute to the development of Centre for Welfare Reform’s campaigning network 

Citizens’ Assembly:  ‘How can communities lead the transition to a better future?’

Promote, & Debate: the ideas developed in Participation at 45º and our 2019 Manifesto statement

Build Back Better: work with Compass to help develop the project. 

Ecojobs: how economic revival should now be driven by environmental concerns