Politicians try their best to engage young people in politics, but often they only acknowledge young people exist but do not cater for their needs especially when it comes to the policies in their manifestos during an election period. Other young people are put off because they think it’s boring. Mention the word politics and no doubt the majority will say ‘I don’t do politics’.
We need to act, get out there and show the world what we can do now. Even though we can’t all vote at present, we will be able to in the near future, so we may as well educate ourselves in preparation.
Here are just some ways you can get involved:
If you are aged between 11 and 18 and want to get involved in politics and represent young people in your local area then this is a great place to start. They regularly campaign about issues that matter to young people; mental health, work experience, living wage, Votes at 16… you get the idea. It’s a great way to meet other passionate young people as well, and by being apolitical, you can speak solely on the issues that matter to you and your peers. You can find out more here.
Find out who your local representatives are
If you’re unaware about who represents you, do a quick google search, for example, ‘MP for Mid Norfolk’ and it should come up with the person’s name, in this case it would be George Freeman.
Contact your local reps about an issue you care about
Whether that be the environment to housing to austerity, your MP and councillors represent you, whether you’re old enough to vote or not and therefore you could influence your MP’s decision to vote a certain way on an issue in Parliament. To help you gain information on how your MP has voted in the past, you can look at TheyWorkForYou which gives you a full breakdown and may provide you with some evidence you can use to influence them when writing your letter or email.
Sign an e-petition
These are useful tools to get a large number of people supporting a cause, lobbying politicians, organisations, corporations etc to make a change. These are fairly easy to set up and a list of current live petitions can be found on the Government’s petitions website here and there are also many others on change.org and 38Degrees which you may be interested in.
Join a political party or pressure group
It’s a rather cheap thing to do and you can go out and canvass or protest for something you truly believe in. Often there are reduced price memberships for youth, to make them even more inclusive. Membership for political parties, in particular, allows you to stand for office, select your local party candidates and vote in any leadership contests that arise.
By every young person doing at least one of these things, we can work towards a society which is more accepting around the issues that young people face and care about. If young people feel important in their communities, they would be so much more likely to help shape it to help everyone. Right now, this simply isn’t the case, but things can change as we have seen more recently with the youthquake and if we keep pushing then surely it’ll count for something?