Today is the official day for filling in the UK census. The census is held every ten years in the UK, it collects information about the countries population, this is then used to help plan services in the future, things like housing needs, schools, roads etc.
I know reading various forums that there has been much discussion about filling the census forms. Some see it as a breach of privacy or wish to rebel against it because they think it is some sort of civil liberty infringement. Others just think it's a waste of time and feel aggrieved at having to fill in a form that does look on first sight to be quite long.
I'd like to answer a couple of those points. First it's really not that long or difficult to fill in, you can either fill the form sent to you and post it off or do the form online. It is 32 pages long, a big deal has been made about that in the media. Yet most households will not need to use all of the form. The first couple of pages contain information about the form and a box to sign as a declaration that all the information you have given is correct to the best of your knowledge. You then have 2 pages to list the people living at the address, up to 3 people per page, this amounts to a simple name and ticking what relation they are to the head of the household. Next is 1 page of house hold questions, then you have 4 single pages of questions which are repeated for each member of the household, the majority of these questions are multiply choice tick box answers and some will be by passed as they will not apply. In my two person house hold I had 10 pages to fill in and the declaration box to sign, hardly a big task.
As to the questions themselves, they are hardly asking for top secret information. Most of the information I'm sure the government will have scattered already across various departments. Lets face it, due to sites like face book many of use give far more personal information away on those sites and never even think about it. Every supermarket you have a store card for has probably more detailed information on you than this is asking for.
The one question that has provoked the most comment on the Internet and media in general is the one about your choice of religion. This question is entirely voluntary, if it offends you in any way, miss it out. If you wish to answer it, then do so with what ever you feel is most appropriate to you. Anyone who is thinking of putting something down like Jedi Knight, that is your free choice but please be aware it won't make a great deal of difference. It will be counted but any religion that is not recognized in this country, will end up being lumped in with the No Religion group.
OK I'm going to direct this next bit to my fellow pagans. I don't know how many of you belong to any form of pagan groups but many of the pagan organizations are asking their members to use the Pagan - Dash method of filling the census in. This means ticking the other box and then in the box underneath writing 'Pagan - (what every your chosen faith is)' So I will be putting 'Pagan - Heathen'. I know some people will say but I call myself wiccan or druid rather than pagan. The point is if we can show how many of use fall under the pagan religions umbrella, hopefully we can start to get more respect for our beliefs. Once we've got that we can the go on to sort out the finer points of the individual groups, but in the end of course it's up to you. If you want any more info on this read here.
Finally as a simple family historian, I plead with everyone to give up 10 Min's. of their time and fill in the form. I have been so thankful of the forms from the previous years going back to 1841 in tracing my family ancestors. I would like to think that in future years, just maybe someone might be using this one to try and trace me, and just maybe one your own descendants will be looking for you.