Repowering democracy

mySociety in 2022

From our Chair

Catherine Brown Catherine Brown
Chair of the board

It’s been quite a year for UK democracy — three Prime Ministers, no general election. And it’s been quite a year for mySociety too — more people than ever using our tools, great new partnerships emerging from our work on the climate emergency and on transparency, and a new strategy that focuses on how we can make more difference and help more and a wider range of people get their hands on the levers of power.

Our work shows that digital services can improve access to existing political processes, but they can also act as powerful concrete demonstrations of how processes could be transformed, and establish positive new norms of transparency and participation for citizens and institutions. I’m particularly excited about the continuing work on transparency, building on our history in this area, with our Alavateli FOI platform enabling large scale investigations and campaigns across Europe and an increased focus on how we can campaign more proactively to protect and enhance transparency through the use of FOI in the UK.

I can’t choose just one favourite highlight for the year — there are just too many great things going on. The work to help people follow through on WhatDoTheyKnow queries, and stop organisations using the exemptions wrongly to brush off Freedom of Information requests, is certainly one favourite. And the work with our partner Climate Emergency UK to make local authorities’ Climate Action Plans accessible to citizens and enable councils to learn from each other is another. And then there are the 7.8 million visits to TheyWorkForYou — helping thousands of people every week understand and use the levers to influence politicians…

It was a year of change for our team. Our long serving and much loved Chief Executive Mark Cridge moved on to pastures new, as did Jonathan Flowers, the brilliant chair of SocietyWorks and one of our long serving trustees. But the team, under the leadership of Louise Crow, Angela Dixon and others stepped into the breach brilliantly — thank you to absolutely everyone for all your work.

We are all proud of the ways people have used our services. Tens of millions of people have used WhatDoTheyKnow, TheyWorkForYou, WriteToThem, and FixMyStreet and the Climate Action Plan Explorer that we launched with Climate Emergency UK. I hope you’ll enjoy the stories included in this report about people using our services to improve their lives and the lives of their communities.

All our services are provided free to their users so if you feel moved to make a contribution to help us carry on supporting and improving them please do so.

Can you support our work?

In the current climate, it’s more important than ever that we hold our representatives to account, push for better transparency from our public authorities, and empower citizens to play an active part in our democracy.

If you’re able to do so, please make a donation. We know that the cost of living is a concern for many, and we don’t take your contributions lightly. Now, more than ever, we will put every penny to the most effective use we can.

Donate £10 Donate £20 Donate £50

From our Chief Executive

Louise Crow Louise Crow
Chief Executive

So here we are at the end of 2022, the year of permacrisis. As we face a difficult winter, it’s easy to feel constantly distracted and disheartened by the urgencies of the present. But we’re feeling the consequences of decisions made by those with power, for good or ill, and it’s more important than ever that we can find out what’s happening, how those decisions are made and who influences them, and make our voices heard. I’m very proud of the role that our work plays in helping millions of people get the information that they need about the decisions that affect their lives and make positive change for their communities.

Along with the crises of the present, much is undecided about our future path — that’s a thought that should spur us into action. As technologists, one of the most powerful things we can do is imagine and make concrete a future we want to live in. We urgently need a repowered democracy that is capable of dealing with long-term and potentially catastrophic challenges like climate change; that we can trust and feel part of in every place; that can encompass and respond to the huge diversity of our lives; and that is underpinned by the effective and principled use of digital technologies.

In 2023, which will be our 20th year as an organisation, along with continuing to build the reach of our services, we’ll be working with new focus on the ways in which technology can be used as a lever on behalf of citizens — to get the democracy we need for the next 20 years.

Climate programme

We are helping councils, community organisations, campaign groups and individual citizens to take faster, more informed and effective action to cut emissions at the local level.

We’ve packed a lot into 2022

We went off the beaten track and explored new ways of working

Through six rapid prototyping weeks, we convened groups of experts to help us imagine how we could solve big problems like…

How digital services might enable councils to reduce emissions through procurement

Try out the prototype See the summary report

How digital services might enable local climate action on energy through conditional commitment

Try out the prototype See the summary report

How we might use data to make local engagement around climate action more focused and sustainable

Try out the prototype See the summary report

We supported Climate Emergency UK on the technical side of things

Design and development are what we do best, so that’s what we contributed to our partner CE UK’s Council Climate Plan Scorecards. Mostly we just stood back and watched in admiration while they took on the task of training up a massive cohort of expert volunteers to mark every council’s Climate Action Plan across 73 crucial areas.

And the Scorecards have had a tangible impact, informing and aiding many small campaigns and organisations in their work to tackle the climate crisis.

“I don’t think we would have published our report without your website”

— Ruth Westcott
Climate Change Campaign Coordinator at Sustain

Read our case study

“A really useful diving board for deeper research and further conversations”

— Alessandra Melis
Associate at Green Finance Institute

Read our case study

“It is so much simpler and efficient for us to know all this information can be found in one easy-to-access place.”

— Colette Fox
Programme Manager at ProVeg UK

Read our case study

We wrote and commissioned research that helps inform those working around climate, data and local government.

Research from Tom Sasse assessed the public understanding of local government and its role in combating climate change.

Energy efficiency in the private rented sector explored the incentives for landlords to improve energy efficiency in their property.

We are exploring how data publishing can be improved, and how this can fit into reform proposals.

All our climate research and prototyping reports can be read online.

CAPE just kept getting bigger and better

The Climate Action Plan Explorer has grown, with the steady addition of new features and information sources. It’s a one stop shop to find out what your local council is doing around climate, and explore the data that puts their plans in context.

We brought the Scorecards scores in

Now you can see how each council performed, directly on their CAPE page.

There’s a whole new way to dive into the data

The Features page means you can easily find councils doing well in specific areas.

Save search time & effort

A single search field returns results from all of a council’s documents.

Projects from north of the border

We’ve gathered Scottish emissions reduction projects into one place.

Where do each council’s emissions come from?

Colourful charts based on BEIS data make it easy to see the sources.

Similar councils — now even better

We made it easier to filter councils by the ones they resemble in terms of rurality, deprivation etc.

We’re funding real life projects that help climate at the local level

Our Innovations in Climate Tech grants were designed to let organisations and councils explore possibilities, improve our climate resilience and accelerate carbon reduction.

Better Futures

With Sandwell and Dudley Council, West Midlands Combined Authority will be creating a UK-wide dashboard of best practice case studies showing how councils are approaching climate adaptation.

Lynsted Community Kitchen Garden

With Swale Council will be exploring data and education around water management, through their drought resistant garden project.


With Camden Council will be testing how ‘difficult’ homes like tower blocks can switch from gas boilers to a ground source heat pump ‘shared loop’ system — and sharing what they find.

Facts and figures

318 councils with climate action plans

100+ people joined us across the six weeks of prototyping sessions

120+ people were trained up by CE UK to score Climate Action Plans

120 regional and local news outlets featured the Scorecards launch

4th The Scorecards was the 4th story on the Guardian homepage on launch day

£15,000 granted to innovative local climate tech projects

Transparency programme

We are supporting the work of journalists and campaigners, and conducting research to build the evidence base for how transparency and access to information laws can help citizens become more active and engaged.

Here’s how that looked in 2022

WhatDoTheyKnow and WhatDoTheyKnow Pro get better and better

  • You’ll see richer information on authorities’ pages and on specific requests, made possible by a bit of development that allows the team to quickly add notes to multiple areas at once.
  • Pro users can send batch requests to all authorities within a category, lessening the burden of picking them all out, and making it more likely that requests go to appropriate recipients.
  • Now there’s a glossary, helping to make the FOI process easier for everyone to understand.

We’re building our arguments for improving Freedom of Information

Building on last year’s research into FOI in the UK, we’ve followed up with research on improving oversight of Access to Information across Europe.

Through our finding that 1 in 10 adults have made a FOI request, engaging with the result of the PACAC report, as well as consultations on how the ICO should be structured and prioritise their work, we’re working to improve the information environment. We want to ensure that WhatDoTheyKnow can continue to be a useful tool for ordinary citizens to access information from public authorities which hold power over their lives.

We pushed back against secrecy…

We’ve argued the theory We responded to a consultation about the impact of SLAPP lawsuits on WhatDoTheyKnow, and explained why excluding new organisations from Freedom of Information is an attack on good governance.

And we’ve reflected that in our actions Pushing back against Northern Trains attempt to keep senior level salaries secret.

…and against illegal behaviour from authorities

When we blogged about authorities who refuse FOI requests via email the ICO wrote to them to confirm that this practice is against the law.

Our dedicated team of staff and volunteers rise to the challenge of our growing website

With WhatDoTheyKnow likely to pass a million requests within the year, a huge amount of invisible work is needed to maintain that archive.

If you’d like to see what that involves, hop over to the Transparency Report.

Our three-year plan to improve Access To Information in Europe has been a great success

  • New Alaveteli-based sites were launched in the Netherlands, France, Greece, Romania and Georgia and installations of Pro were completed in Sweden, the Netherlands, Hungary, Greece, France, the Czech Republic, Croatia, Belgium and the UK.
  • Over 130 journalists, campaigners and high-impact FOI users were trained in person, and more than 550 people through online webinars and events.
  • FOI platforms in Europe have enabled 27 large scale investigations and campaigns, and many hundreds more published news stories have drawn on requests made through them.

And we’re not stopping there

  • We’re already planning the next three years, in which we’ll be strengthening the Access to Information network along with our partners FragDenStaat in Germany and Access Info Europe in Spain.
  • And we’ll be working hard to add additional support for marginalised communities, thanks to funding from the Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust.

Facts and figures

830 FOI requests indicated as having contributed to news stories and research papers this year.

1M+ over a million public requests made through Alaveteli sites across the world.

109,653 requests made on WhatDoTheyKnow this year.

8,912 email threads dealt with in the WhatDoTheyKnow user support inbox

80%+ of the UK’s parish councils now on WhatDoTheyKnow, thanks to volunteers working to add thousands of them.

16M+ visits to WhatDoTheyKnow this year.

Matters of note

The Ukrainian Alaveteli site was used to request information on the location of bomb shelters.

And we discovered that one of the site’s runners joined the military to defend Ukraine (link to a Google Translate version of the story)

We were delighted to meet up with Teona Tomashvili from the Georgian Alaveteli site

To our volunteer team

Grateful recognition is due to our tireless volunteer team, who have answered emails, made decisions, maintained the site, added authorities, classified requests, and SO MUCH MORE.

Thanks so much to all of you.

Democracy is at the heart of everything we do

Through all our work, from Parliamentary monitoring, through Freedom of Information and our new work looking at climate change and local government, we believe that society is better when people are more informed and involved.

We are proud of what our democracy websites (TheyWorkForYou and WriteToThem) accomplish, but they need more funding to achieve their potential.

TheyWorkForYou Alerts provide a vital free tool to charitable and public sector organisations

We reached out to our users to find out how they were using alerts, and found how they ensure organisations are up-to-date on policy developments.

We heard from the Editor of Inside Time, the national newspaper for prisoners and detainees, how email alerts help them find the news that matters to their readership.

TheyWorkForYou is used by millions of people

Through polling, we know that 1/5 of UK adults have used TheyWorkForYou — and have tested how far the public feel that MPs are accountable for their voting record.

WriteToThem helped make public feeling heard on Partygate

People have been writing to their MPs this week.

We think there is so much more we can do

Next year we will be exploring the impact of twenty years of TheyWorkForYou, and mapping out how we can make our vital democracy websites more sustainable and impactful for decades to come. You can support our work with a one-off or monthly donation.

What did you do using our tools?

Some of the campaigns that sent the most people towards WriteToThem this year:

Facts and figures

Peaks in traffic in 2022 reflected the democratic rollercoaster we’ve all been on:

  • The resignation of Boris Johnson
  • The announcements of the contenders for Conservative party leadership
  • Kwasi Kwarteng’s ‘mini budget’
  • Liz Truss’ resignation
  • The appointment of Rishi Sunak

While we don’t look at the content of emails sent through WriteToThem (except very rarely, under specific circumstances as recorded in our Privacy Policy), the highest daily numbers of visits do coincide with big events in the news. These included:

  • The announcement of the end of the BBC licence fee (17 January)
  • Liz Truss flying by private jet to Australia (27 January)
  • Keir Starmer and ‘beergate’ (9 May)
  • 17 March when any one of several stories might have been on correspondents’ minds:
    • The return of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe to the UK
    • The bombing of civilians in Mariupol
    • Dominic Cummings acccusing Boris Johnson of lying over Evgeny Lebedev
    • The scrapping of plans to cap MPs’ earnings from second jobs

2.3M visits to WriteToThem

7.5M visits to TheyWorkForYou

4.5M emails sent to subscribers

Through SocietyWorks

We provide citizen-centred digital services for local government and the public sector

We are helping our public sector clients better serve citizens through effective digital solutions.

Take a look at some of the impact we made in 2022…

We reduced avoidable customer contacts about waste services by 40% for Bromley Council

All within just two months of introducing the council’s dedicated version of our WasteWorks service, which was shortlisted for the Public/Private Partnership award at the LGC Awards, in collaboration with Bromley.

We helped Buckinghamshire Council unify the fault reporting process for residents across its 171 parish and town councils

FixMyStreet Pro’s functionality enables automatic triaging of reports and gives councils or other bodies without integration the ability to update reports via email, closing the feedback loop for residents and, for Buckinghamshire, creating an anticipated £50,000 in savings for grass and hedge cutting reports alone.

We sent 633,000k+ (and counting) reports to local authorities on behalf of citizens via and dedicated FixMyStreet Pro sites

Since 2007, mySociety’s FixMyStreet service has provided an easy way for citizens to accurately report a problem to the correct authority, even if they don’t know who is responsible. All Pro sites are intertwined with helping to reduce duplicate reporting and facilitating nationwide report triaging.

Graffiti removed from Alcester Road, Moseley by @BhamCityCouncil after I reported it via @FixMyStreet.

Pleased to see prompt action to replace the Cudham Lane North road sign outside the Rose and Crown within 48 hours of reporting on @fixmystreet @LBofBromley

Before v After:

SocietyWorks’ year in full

To discover more about what the team has been up to this year

Visit their separate annual review

TICTeC programme

We debate, network, and share research and knowledge in the civic tech field, all in the interests of increasing our collective impact

A pipeline from discussion to solutions

This year saw us wrap up the Civic Tech Surgeries part of TICTeC Labs, the programme that seeks to bring improvements to our own sector.

Public-private collaborations: how can civic tech work effectively with public and private institutions?
Ensuring civic tech is accessible: how can we lead and popularise best practice?
Accessing quality information for civic tech success: how can we overcome barriers to accessing good data and documentation?
Storytelling and reach: how can we amplify our successes beyond the civic tech community to evidence our impact through mainstream channels?
Learning from climate action — how can civic tech drive impactful societal change?
Civic tech in hostile environments — how can we thrive in challenging contexts?

Facts and figures

15 mySociety events this year

24 speakers, from 15 countries, at TICTeC events this year

282 attendees at TICTeC events this year

31 people taking part in the Action Lab working groups

6 subgrants given to support projects through TICTeC Labs

9 events by other organisations, that we presented at

TICTeC participants said:

“The programme was really useful as it followed a participatory methodology to identify core problems, design solutions and implement them in partnership with expert civil society organisations.”

“I think it is a great initiative. What is impressive is the active community that participates with similar enthusiasm each time”.

“I like the variety of topics chosen and also, the fact that there is a visible process of not just discussion but what comes out of that discussion.”

“I really liked the opportunity and format to engage with other practitioners to address these important civic tech issues”.

…and not to forget:

we’re outstanding

We’d never say that about ourselves, of course, but we were more than gratified to be awarded the Outstanding Contribution to Democratic Change award by the Democracy Network.

What a way to end the year: surrounded by the many organisations in our sector who are striving, alongside us, to make — as Jessie Joe Jacobs of the Democracy Network phrased it — “a kinder, fairer, more accountable, people powered democracy”.

Warm welcomes

Alexander Griffen


Amelia Nicholas

Head of Client Partnerships

Helen Cross

WhatDoTheyKnow Service Manager

Jill Aquarone

Finance and Admin Manager

Nicolle Whitehead

Account Manager

Nik Gupta


Pauline Castres

Policy and Advocacy Manager

Rachel Shirley

Events and Engagement Manager

Victoria Mihell-Hale


Yolanda Gomes

Head of HR & Support Services

Still in safe hands

Goodbye to one CEO

After seven years as mySociety’s Chief Exec, Mark Cridge can now be found greening London with the National Park City Foundation. Thanks for everything, Mark!

New one looks familiar

She started here as a volunteer; now her years of experience at mySociety are helping Louise Crow run the organisation with foresight born of knowledge. Congratulations Louise!

Changes at the board level


Three new trustees:

  • Devin
  • Francis
  • Jen


Thank you and goodbye to trustee Julia


Four new additions to the volunteer team:

  • Helen
  • John
  • Luis
  • Alison

What keeps us going

We always end our annual report with a big old ‘thank you’ — and in case you didn’t realise, we’re talking to you.


Thank you so much to everyone who made a donation — large or small, they all really help.

and a heartfelt thanks to our funders

You could be on the funder list next year

Get in touch to find out how your organisation could support mySociety’s work.

Contact us

If you value the work that we do, please do help us keep it going

Donate £10 Donate £20 Donate £50


Endless gratitude to our fantastic team of volunteers, who work long and hard to keep WhatDoTheyKnow running smoothly.

All due appreciation to our knowledgeable and level-headed trustees, who help us steer mySociety’s course.


Many thanks to you: our supporters, service users, followers, event attendees… and friends. You’ve read right to the end of this report, which makes you one of our best!

Governance facts and figures

Many thanks to you: our supporters, service users, followers, event attendees… and friends. You’ve read right to the end of this report, which makes you one of our best!

In 2022 we employed on average 34 staff, each of whom were paid in excess of the real living wage.

Our Trustees and Non-Executive Directors all give their very valuable time for free and receive no other compensation — for which we’re very grateful.

SocietyWorks accounts on Companies House.

What’s next?

Watch this space! 2023 is mySociety’s 20th anniversary and we’ve got a few plans up our sleeve for how to mark this milestone.

Want more?

This is a more concise Annual Review than usual; but don’t forget you can browse our blog to see everything we did in 2022

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