About us

For all its faults and foibles, our democracy is a profound gift from previous generations. Yet most people don't know the name of their MP, nor their constituency, let alone what their MP does or says in their name.

We aim to help bridge this growing democratic disconnect, in the belief that there is little wrong with Parliament that a healthy mixture of transparency and public engagement won't fix.

Hence this website.

Who runs this site?

TheyWorkForYou is a website run by mySociety, which is itself a project of UK Citizens Online Democracy, a registered charity. It was originally built almost entirely by volunteers (see History below), but now mySociety pays Matthew to keep the site running and up-to-date as part of his wider work for mySociety. However, things are still added voluntarily by anyone who wishes. If you want to volunteer to help then you can, just take a look at the Volunteering page.

The copyright of Hansard remains under Parliamentary Copyright, used under licence.

If you're technically minded, we make all the TheyWorkForYou source code freely available. Do let us know if you want to help!

History

TheyWorkForYou was set up almost entirely [1] by a dozen or so volunteers who thought it should be really easy for people to keep tabs on their elected MPs, and their unelected Peers, and comment on what goes on in Parliament. They'd done this sort of thing before, but never on this scale.

([1] One of the key developers was kept fed for a month by a small grant from UK Citizen's Online Democracy, before TheyWorkForYou became a mySociety project. This money was vital. Hungry developers don't write good code. If you like TheyWorkForYou, and want to support mySociety, you can make a donation yourself.)

Between them, the original volunteers had developed and run a range of not-for-profit websites of a vaguely similar ilk. PublicWhip.org.uk, PepysDiary.com, Haddock.org, Byliner.com, B3Ta, DowningStreetSays.com, MySociety, and an accessible re-versioning of the National Rail Timetable website. They conceived and developed the original UpMyStreet.com back in 1998.

In early 2006 Tom and Stef decided that the overlap of people and goals with mySociety was so substantial that it was best to pass the running over to mySociety, who are an actual proper organisation with staff and time.

Matthew added the Northern Ireland Assembly as an early Christmas present in 2006, working alone and voluntarily, perhaps as a nudge to the Scots and the Welsh to come forward and work on their own versions. :)

This approach met with success as ace volunteer Mark Longair contributed the parsing code and much front-end code for the Scottish Parliament which launched in May 2008. Wales is now all alone…

Volunteers

They did all this in their spare time, because they thought it was worth doing. And if it's worth doing, you might as well try to do it well.

  • Richard Allan
  • Martin Belam
  • James Crabtree
  • James Cronin
  • Stephen Dunn
  • Yoz Grahame
  • Phil Gyford
  • David Heath
  • Francis Irving
  • Ben Laurie
  • Tom Loosemore
  • Stefan Magdalinski
  • Dorian McFarland
  • Anno Mitchell
  • Danny O'Brien
  • Sam Smith
  • Matthew Somerville
  • Tom Steinberg
  • Stuart Tily
  • Julian Todd
  • Denise Wilton

Since the site launched, a variety of people have contributed to the running of the site, both paid and voluntarily. Mark Longair added the Scottish Parliament, and Matthew Somerville added the Northern Ireland Assembly. Etienne Pollard did much of the work to get BBC Parliament video downloaded and chunked. Richard Pope made the current design, and Joe Lanman contributed the red Parliament logo. Deborah Kerr uploads photos of 19th century MPs as people send them in, along with other user support. Louise Crow, Francis Irving, Duncan Parkes, and others have fixed bugs, get the parser running, and so on.