Inventing meaning and purpose: a politics award for our times - RSA Blog - RSA

Inventing meaning and purpose: a politics award for our times


  • Community and place-based action
  • Social innovation

The Innovation in Politics Awards 2022 are launching in September and we’re inspiring our Fellows to get involved. Here, Ruth Hannan, our Head of Policy and Participation, explains why you should consider submitting your creative and courageous political project.

Before writing this blog inspiring Fellows and others to submit a project to the annual Innovation in Politics Awards which kick off in September, I was looking for some inspiration of my own.

During my research, I came across a Twitter thread by Eric Reinhart, a psychoanalyst, about working with people who have survived a suicide attempt. He talked about helping find the point of life when in challenging times this may feel difficult. He said something that resonated with me:

Yes, there is no intrinsic meaning or purpose in your life. This is difficult; it’s also the reason there’s possibility for you. The task of living is to invent meaning and purpose, and then invent it again. It’s work. Much of the time it’s painful. Sometimes, it’s also joy.

Eric Reinhart

This thread, and this quote, in particular, felt very relevant to the value and need of the awards and why the RSA continues to support them.

We are in difficult times, democracy can feel incredibly fragile around the world; the urge to retreat into old more restrictive methods to keep us safer can be powerful, but this is where the celebration and sharing of innovation become even more valuable.

Since 2019, the RSA has supported the Innovation in Politics Awards. This partnership identifies UK projects driving forward how democracy is experienced, how participation is increased and how tough societal problems are tackled together for the good of people, place and planet.

The awards are straightforward. They celebrate projects seeking solutions to our tough challenges and are supported by and involve political leaders (whether at a local, regional or national level).

Innovation in Politics Awards 2022: The categories…

The Innovation in Politics Institute, the body behind the awards, has presented them in eight categories for 2022 and describes each of them as:

1. Democracy

Equality, community, inclusion

Projects that strengthen democracy by providing for an open and free society, and enabling new and effective forms of participation in political decision-making.

2. Climate protection

Decarbonisation, environmental protection, sustainability

Political work tackling the climate crisis and addressing issues such as energy, mobility, housing and food in accordance with the principles of sustainability.

3. Democracy technologies

Digital participation, deliberation, E-voting

Innovations applying and improving technologies in democratic processes and other areas of public life – with a focus on citizen participation.

4. Government improvement

Transparency, accountability, low threshold

Political effort to apply and improve information and communication technologies in government services and public institutions, to improve their performance.

5. Social cohesion

Diversity, migration, engagement

Achievements that ensure a decent standard of living for all members of a community, including modern health services, a safe living environment, and access to culture and the arts – for all citizens, wherever they were born.

6. Local development

Rural areas, local initiatives, local economy

Political accomplishments that foster local and regional cooperation and development in society, and supports the local economy (ie creates jobs) – no project is too small to be submitted.

7. Education

Learning, teaching, empowerment

Mechanisms that promote education and facilitate lifelong learning, including providing the knowledge and skills needed by resilient communities and individuals in an ever-changing environment.

8. Party innovation

Transparency, mobilisation, technology

Changemaking in political parties that help make them more accessible, motivate people to be candidates and engage people in campaigns.

Political (small 'p') innovation

Most of these categories use ’political‘ lightly and seek innovative projects that are supported by politicians to achieve an improvement in how democracy is experienced, participation is increased and tough societal issues are addressed.


Find out more about ProxyAddress, the UK project among the 2021 winners of the Innovation in Politics Awards.

An example of a previous UK winner is ProxyAddress an innovative project that offers homeless people a “proxy address” enabling them to access healthcare, benefits etc.

Chris Hildrey from ProxyAddress has said that winning the Innovation in Politics Award in 2020 has helped raise awareness of the initiative and bring it into the public consciousness.

What to do next, that’s the easy part. Complete the form below and we’ll be in touch. You have until the end of September to contact us.

Submit your project

Award category of project

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