I’m pleased to be lending my support to the My Voice, My Vote Campaign to increase young people’s engagement in politics and the democratic process through taking social action.
My Voice, My Vote is a programme of UpRising, a new charity that has Prime Minister David Cameron, Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg and Leader of the Opposition Ed Miliband as its three founding Patrons.
The programme will see young people trained in leadership skills and campaigning techniques such as digital storytelling, and then supported to take part in social action within their local community - all aimed at developing a passion and interest in the wellbeing of the community in which they live. At the same time, with support from and access to a network of elected representatives, business and civic leaders, young people will be encouraged to recognise the link between the future of their neighbourhood and the use of their right to vote.
Youth voting has been falling since the 1970s. While the percentage of all registered voters participating in the 2010 election increased from the previous poll, only 44 per cent of voters aged 18-25 took part, compared with 76 per cent of voters aged 65 or older. Turnout was particularly low among young women aged 18-25: only 39 per cent went to the polls, compared with 50 per cent of young men of the same age.
Boosting levels of youth voting is important because without active engagement by young people in the political process their priorities are less likely to be heard and acted upon by policy makers. This cross-party campaign seeks to increase these levels, and sees participation in volunteering and social action as key to encouraging this increase.
It benefits all of us if young people are engaged in politics and exercise their democratic right.
It stands to reason that if you have a passion for your community and its future then you are more likely to exercise your right to vote on decisions affecting your area come election time. Making that link between volunteering and politics is therefore a key way to encourage young people to vote and reverse the decline in their participation in recent General Elections.