PUBLIC SECTOR CAMPAIGN: Spotlight on migrants in registration push

Electoral Commission research on BME (black minority ethnic) attitudes to voting suggests that 15 per cent of people from certain communities may not be registered to vote in London, with the highest rates of non-registration reported among certain black African communities.

BME community members volunteered
BME community members volunteered

Campaign: How far would you go to vote? (London election)
Client: Brent and Harrow Councils
PR Team: In-house
Timescale: 23 March - 1 May 2008
Budget: £5,000

Brent is London's most diverse borough and faces particular challenges engaging with BME communities who are entitled to vote in the UK. 'How far would you go to vote?', was launched in Brent and Harrow, north London, to encourage people to vote in the London election on 1 May.

To increase the number of people who voted in the Brent and Harrow constituency, particularly those from BME communities.

The four members of the public who volunteered to help the campaign were selected because they lived in Brent but came from countries without a democratic tradition, or where the electoral system has been criticised.

Martin Gavin, senior comms officer at Brent London Borough Council, says one of the most powerful stories was from an election observer who had escaped Iraq following death threats.

The main launch press release was supported by further press releases focusing on postal voting,

The Willesden & Brent Times ran a front-page splash and double page interview with the Iraqi man.

The campaign was covered in 10 local and national print media titles, as well as two radio interviews, one with north London's Life FM and an unauthorised piece on a 'pirate' station. The media campaign was supported with 20 bus adverts and 60 JC Decaux poster sites across the area. There was a mix of ads and full-page editorial in TBM, the council's residents' magazine delivered to 100,000 households.

Postal voting went up by 1,000 per cent on 2004, and almost 2,500 new voters registered during April. Turnout overall for Brent and Harrow on 1 May was 43 per cent, which is just under six per cent higher than in 2004. The London Assembly seat switched to Labour for the first time, bucking the national trend. The winning majority was 1,649.

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