Look Around EU

Our first reaction to the EU referendum was indifference. What a waste of time! What a distraction from other, more important things. As the campaign ramped up, though, the negative campaigning really started to get to us. Neither side really cared about the facts: it was just a shouting match. The focus of the debate slid towards scaremongering and xenophobia. Suddenly, we found ourselves caring a lot more than we expected to.

One afternoon in Barcelona, we were chatting about how little EU presence there seems to be in the UK. François noted how in France, you see EU flags everywhere. Holly pointed out that in Ireland, there are EU plaques on everything. In Lithuania, we had seen EU funding signs on everything from motorways to sculpture parks. Where are the flags in Britain? Where are the plaques?

Would people appreciate the EU more if they could see some tangible proof of how it has helped their local area?

So, with only a week to go before the referendum, we built and launched a one page website: Look Around EU. Just a map of the UK, filled with pins of places that have received EU funding. Each pin has a name, description, coordinates, amount of funding, and a link to the source. A quick search for your town or postcode reveals a host of academic, cultural and infrastructure projects that wouldn’t exist without EU help.

A few brave volunteers went out to snap pictures of the organisations that have benefitted from EU money. Using the hashtag #lookaroundeu, we shared these images from universities, hospitals and museums to illustrate what we stand to lose if we leave the EU.

We’d like to thank everyone who helped pull Look Around EU together. Holly, for the seed of the idea. Mark, for designing our logo. Richard, Katherine, and the amazing Wikipedians who scoured the web to find data sources. Betahaus, for letting us work over the weekend. Everyone who joined our Slack team. Everyone who added map pins through our Google form. Everyone who took pictures. Everyone who shared on Facebook and Twitter. Together, we reached:

  • 3000 users in the first three days
  • Over 500 EU funded places added to our map
  • Users across more than 300 UK towns

With no money, and no time, but a lot of goodwill, our message went further than we could possibly have hoped.

We’d like to think that Look Around EU is a great example of what we can do when we all work together. As we go to vote today, let’s remember how great it feels to build something with our friends 😘🇪🇺

Startuple is François Hoehl and Sinead Doyle. Find out more at startuple.works