Every Vote Matters – Minister for the Constitution visits BHT to discuss registration and voting by homeless people

Chris Skidmore MP (centre) with Simon Hughes (BHT senior manager) and me.

Yesterday (Monday, 7 August), the Minister for the Constitution, Chris Skidmore MP, visited Brighton Housing Trust, as part of his Every Vote Matters tour to hear first hand about the experiences homeless people have faced when voting or registering to vote.

The Minister later visited Blind Veterans UK and Brighton & Hove Speakout. He heard from all three charities about how they raised awareness of participation in the democratic process for the General Election 2017 and what support they provided to residents and clients.

Chris Skidmore, Minister for the Constitution, said: “Brighton Housing Trust, Blind Veterans UK and Brighton and Hove Speakout are fantastic organisations that ensure people experiencing homelessness and those with disabilities feel confident, empowered and remain an active part of their society.

“A big part of this is being able to register to vote and remain a part of our democracy. Today’s visits have helped me understand how we can support vulnerable people to ensure that ours is a truly inclusive democracy.

“Nearly three million applications to register to vote were received online between 18 April and 22 May but there are still under-represented groups we can improve the processes for. Regardless of who you are, or how you vote, every voice matters and we encourage you to register to vote.”

I told the minister that homeless people, especially those who are street homeless, can be multiply excluded. To know that their right to vote is being considered at the highest level in government is a great encouragement. Voting changes things, not always in a way politicians want, but it is at the heart of our democracy. Chris Skidmore showed a deep understanding and awareness of many of the issues we deal with on a daily basis. He was keen to learn how voter registration and voting itself can be maximised amongst people who are often invisible and ignored.

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