Young people need more platforms and opportunities.

The countdown is on! With just 7 days left until the election, politicians are now practically begging for your vote. Does “Red-Ed” get the nod or will it be Dave the ‘not-so’ brave? ‘Nasty Nick’ or ‘Brain-fading Bennett?’ Our Reframing the Vote series is looking into the reasons why so many young people seem disillusioned with British politics today…

In the fourth of our weekly blog series in the run up to the election, we asked Julia Stevens, Programme Manager at Uprising, the youth leadership development organisation, her thoughts on how we can get more young people engaged in politics today…

Continuing to put young people at the heart of these discussions, we asked Faith Allen, a returned ICS volunteer with Restless in Zimbabwe, her thoughts on the election and the issues Julia raised in her speech.

Faith on her ICS placement in Zimbabwe at the start of 2014.
Faith on her ICS placement in Zimbabwe at the start of 2014.

How do you feel about voting in the upcoming election?

Although I’ve been really busy moving here there and everywhere, I found it really important to get my postal vote sorted as I see it important to at least try to be heard. The upcoming election makes me feel nervous; there is one party doing better than I would have thought and they hold a seat in a town 5 minutes drive from my hometown… I was confident in my last vote but it is very hard to trust any kind of media representation of each party, even when the leaders step forward to present themselves. I just want facts and no irrelevant figures.

What impact has your ICS placement had on your level of political engagement?

View from the audience – Reframing the Vote.

My placement that I returned from just over a year ago has made me see how important it is to ask questions. I volunteered in Zimbabwe where politics and politicians are far from transparent. Since returning from placement, I have been involved in many campaigns, debates, conferences and talks representing Restless – making me feel truly involved and engaged in politics!

Do you feel current politicians truly represent you and other young people?

I feel that one party does represent some values I hold dear but then let’s me down in other ways. I don’t feel they represent young people or have their interests at heart. I certainly don’t feel I’ve had the right support in education or in starting my career (as a teacher… Which I left soon after qualifying) and now it seems that getting a start in life is more challenging than ever.

“The more young people can get engaged in social action through social campaigning, the more people will become engaged in politics.” Do you agree with this statement from Julia?

Young people need more platforms and opportunities to get involved in social action, campaigning and politics like the ones that Restless have given me. At university, I was also lucky enough to get involved in NUS and other aspects of politics. Being someone that was fortunate enough to enter that level of education or even choose that course, I can’t say I feel like  represent every young person though.

Julia Stevens, London Programmes Manager at Uprising, speaking at our Reframing the Vote event.
Julia Stevens, London Programmes Manager at Uprising, speaking at our Reframing the Vote event.

How can young people learn the skills to hold governments and leaders to account, and how can we make these more accessible?

Young people need to step forward to do this more often and have a seat in every important talk, which means these opportunities need to be better advertised. This reminds me that the NUS conference was last week, and the key topic of the conference was? To vote or not to vote.


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Young people need more platforms and opportunities.

by wearerestless Reading time: 3 min