Young People: Get Involved With Politics!

Whilst Alistair Campbell may have famously said that Labour 'don't do religion', young people regularly advocate that they 'don't do politics'. However, this simply isn't true, young people are influencing politics, just not traditionally. Technology has given young people a voice, Facebook, Twitter and Bebo are full of political campaigns, young people are showing that they are a political force to be reckoned with.

Some young people are put off politics because they see it as too complicated or boring.  We have put together this guide to enable young people to get involved in politics no matter what their passion or political viewpoint is. Politics has changed dramatically and there are so many different ways that you can become politically active and it doesn't have to involve door knocking or wearing a party rosette.

Youth of Today

Recently launched, the Youth of Today project enables young people aged 13-19 to influence decisions in government and gain experience of how central and government works. It also has £1m in funding for projects that would help young people. Some of the opportunities available include shadowing a minister/councillor and apprenticeships at Youth of Today.

To find out more about Youth of Today, click here

Youth Parliament

The UK Youth Parliament runs on similar principles as the main UK Parliament. Young people aged 11-18 elect other young people to represent them in the Youth Parliament. Members of Youth Parliament (MYPs) represent young people in their area to local authorities and MPs.

The UK Youth Parliament campaigns for many issues that affect young people. Previous campaigns include reducing the voting age to 16 and abolishing university tuition fees.

Elections are held for the UK Youth Parliament every year between December and February. In the last 2 years 500,000 young people voted in the MYP elections. The Youth Parliament is already an influential young people's organisation, which is finding new and interesting ways to engage young people in politics. Get more information about the UK Youth Parliament here

Youth Councils

Youth Councils represents young people in local government. Local councils and public services consult with Youth Councils to obtain young people's views.

Youth Councillors are usually elected and their time in office is different in every local authority. Youth Councillors have a unique opportunity to influence decisions in their local area and ensure that young people's views are heard.

To find out more about Youth Councils, check out the British Youth Council website

E-Petitions

Petitions are powerful social tools and are used to lobby politicians/organisations on a variety of issues. But forget standing in the rain collecting signatures, there are now legal online petitions that are easy to use and set up.

The best online petition is the e-petitions on the Number Ten website. Ironically (as this went to press), the most popular petition is asking for Gordon Brown to resign!

Social Media

Social Media sites are fantastic ways of spreading your message/campaign very quickly to a wide range of people. In the last US elections, social media was influential and Obama used Twitter and Facebook to his advantage. Gordon Brown and the Queen also both use YouTube.

In the aftermath of the recent Iranian election, Iranians campaigned furiously against the current government using Twitter and Blogs. Social media is undoubtedly a force to be reckoned with.

If you are going to use social media please remember to keep safe, don't display your phone number or address. The sites below are great for online campaigning:

YouTube - Video streaming website

Facebook - Extremely popular social networking site

Twitter - Microblogging website used by everyone from politicians to celebrities

MySpace - Social networking site, very popular with musicians

Bebo - Very popular social networking sites

Idealist - Founded by Action Without Borders, Idealist is an online community of social activists.      

Organisations

There are many pressure groups and charities that encourage young people to get involved with social activism. Many of these groups hold political events, where they may lobby politicians or hold protests. If you are interested in a certain cause it may be good for you to contact a local group, as they usually provide training and support.

Examples of pressure groups that are highly involved in politics include the civil rights group Liberty and the environmental organisation Greenpeace.

Examples of charities that are highly involved in politics include Oxfam and the HIV charity Terrance Higgins Trust.

Let us you know your views

Have we missed out anything? Do you have any ideas on other ways that young people can get involved with politics? Send an email to info@ehpeople.org or leave a comment below.

If you are interested in our work and would like to get involved, please don't hesitate to get in touch.

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