Reimagining the Magna Carta: Teens bring the historic document into the 21st century

HLF-LOGO“What a Liberty!, based on passionate young voices, giving us the tools and freedom to express who we are and what we believe in. Sparking conversation. We’re here to influence the future. We’re here to promote a new charter. We are Magna Carta 2.0.”

Brought together from all walks of life by What a Liberty!, and supported by a £36,200 grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund, the project is led by Index on Censorship with support from Bishopsgate Institute and C1 Media. Together, 18 young people explored and debated the concepts included in the original document before moving to create their Great Charter.

“What I’ve learned from being on the Magna Carta 2.0 is that everyone has a say. If a group of teenagers can come together and create this incredible project and speak their voices and make a change, then anyone can make a change,” Charlotte Gray, a What a Liberty! participant, said.

Magna Carta 2.0 aims to spark discussion, provoke change and encourage young people to make sure their voice is heard.  The teens focused on the need for justice, education and environmental consciousness:

  • Equal opportunities should be available for all, regardless of race, gender and class, in both the workplace and the educational system.
  • Gender neutrality should be seen as equally important to gender equality.
  • Freedom of speech shall be protected all around the world as one of the most valuable rights that people have.
  • There shall be freedom for all to explore and express their sexuality and identity.
  • Political education should be taught to all young people in secondary school in order to tackle disengagement and lack of political awareness.
  • Educational opportunity should not be limited to a few – everyone must have an equal chance to succeed.
  • Corporations must take more responsibility over their C02 emissions and pollution levels, and will convert to the use of green power with zero emissions targets in the near future.

“Magna Carta 2.0 is the culmination of a process during which What a Liberty! facilitators worked with the young people to research the foundations of the UK’s human rights by giving them access to Magna Carta in Lincoln and an amazing archive of material at the Bishopsgate Institute. They also met with experts from a variety of fields before deciding for themselves what the group wanted to include. On a personal level, I was consistently impressed by the diligence and ambition the young people applied to this project,” Helen Galliano, What a Liberty! project producer, said.

The What a Liberty! group has set out to inspire other young people to engage with politics and human rights by adding their voice to the Magna Carta 2.0. They’ve launched a self-managed website and social media presence (Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Instagram) to spread the word and spark discussions about human rights in the 21st century.  The site includes a Magna Carta 2.0 film, scripted and filmed by the young people collectively and features a spoken word poem that outlines the issues they feel passionate about, written by former Tottenham young poet laureate Janache John-Baptiste, a What a Liberty! participant.

On Wednesday 6 July the What a Liberty! team will hold a Magna Carta 2.0 kick off event hosted by the Collection Museum in Lincoln, a short walk from the original Magna Carta. The day will include a programme of workshops for local young people, a presentation, Q&A session, key-note speech and graduation ceremony for the group as they launch into the next phase of the project. The Lincoln launch will be an opportunity for the group to present their work in a professional environment, within a rich historical context.

To find out more about attending the event, please contact Helen Galliano on [email protected].

About Heritage Lottery Fund

Thanks to National Lottery players, we invest money to help people across the UK explore, enjoy and protect the heritage they care about – from the archaeology under our feet to the historic parks and buildings we love, from precious memories and collections to rare wildlife. @heritagelottery

About Index on Censorship

Index on Censorship is an international organisation that defends people’s freedom to express themselves without fear of harm or persecution. The inspiration of poet Stephen Spender, Index was founded in 1972 to publish the untold stories of dissidents behind the Iron Curtain. Today, we fight for free speech around the world, challenging censorship whenever and wherever it occurs. @IndexCensorship

For further information, please contact

Index on Censorship: Helen Galliano, Project Producer, 02079637296 or [email protected]

Heritage Lottery Fund: Felix Gott, Communications Manager, 02075916138 or [email protected]