2020’s pandemic has showcased many issues that we, as a society, must work on. From how the UK government reacted to the initial outbreak and the way in which we consume information, to our increasing distrust in political institutions and the growing isolation many of us feel.

Mission: End Misinformation

With such an intense 2020, it’s understandable to expect 2021 to be just as terrifying. However, at least for us at Shout Out UK, 2021 brings hope. First, despite the spread of misinformation by the anti-vax movement, we do have a vaccine — three in fact! So there is a possible end in sight to the pandemic. Second, governments across the globe have started to realise the urgent need for both media and political literacy to combat misinformation and ensure a rise in democratic engagement.

The wave of misinformation has gone on unchallenged for several years. 2020 was the turning point. The UN declared an infodemic. Social media companies have started taking action, and governments across the world have since made political and media literacy one of their priorities.

Here in the UK, we are seeing a growing level of support across companies, third sector organisations and governments both regional and national. To combat growing misinformation around the pandemic, we partnered with the US Embassy and the Association For Citizenship Teaching to create a series of free resources, including a short course, cartoons, infographics, and a podcast to support the teaching of media literacy.

We also secured a partnership with Nesta and the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport (DCMS) to create a Media Literacy course, which was then launched in youth clubs and schools across the UK during the height of lockdown. As well as this, we also managed to secure support from the Times+, who freely promoted the individual and parent version of our Media Literacy programme and E-Portal on their website and in their weekend newspaper.

A Boost for Democracy

Democratic engagement and Political Literacy have seen a boost in 2020. September 14th-20th saw us and the GLA run a city-wide campaign to address voter registration inequality in London. Launched with the support of all 33 London boroughs, the London Voter Registration Strategic Partnership, and over 100 civil society organisations, London Voter Registration Week 2020 (LVRW 2020) gained the support of a further 100 civil society organisations and influencers and achieved a total online reach of 2.6 million people!

This collectively resulted in 27,120 people registering to vote across London during LVRW 2020 — a 14 per cent increase from the week before and in contrast to a 5 per cent drop in voter registration rates across the rest of the UK. The week also saw 5,920 young people (16-to-24-year-olds) register to vote across London. This showed a 23 per cent increase from the week before, despite the number of young people registering to vote having fallen by 6 per cent nationwide.

The LVRW 2020 assets and animations crucially contained information essential to developing political literacy. This translated into a significant boost to London’s voter registration rates, showing that democratic participation and Political Literacy must go hand-in-hand.

Alongside the media literacy and political literacy campaigns, we also continued to deliver our flagship Political & Media Literacy courses to more and more schools and youth clubs across the UK. This was partly possible with the support of local councils and foundations to ensure we reach those most in need. Alongside our traditional course, we have also seen an increase in bespoke courses and partners. Most notably with the WWF UK, where we partnered with their UK team to create a series of resources on what we called ‘Climate Literacy’, to help young people better understand climate change and myth-bust the misinformation circulating around this topic. We then managed to deliver these resources as workshops to over 500 young people across the UK.

And so, despite misinformation and populism having grown unhindered for some time, things are finally changing. 2020 was one of our busiest years to date and we have no intention of stopping.

Welcome 2021!

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