The Youth in Democracy project is headed up by your President, Jonathan Stephen and Esther Adebisi. One of Jonathan’s aim’s this year was to increase youth votes in both local and student elections and alongside Esther, a Voice Team Researcher and BAME Ambassador, they teamed up to create the Youth in Democracy Project. Esther has written this blog about the Youth in Democracy project, looking at its background and the plans for its future.
The youth voice is something that has been portrayed as silent in society today. The notion often pushed forward is that millennials, students in particular, do not care about politics or that they are completely disengaged. These stereotypes have been found to be damaging and discourage involvement.
To combat this, the Youth in Democracy group was created in September 2018. The aims of the group were to increase student education and engagement on politics and current affairs within the university and wider community.
Local Youth in democracy week, 15th -21st of October saw the launch of the Youth in Democracy Group with events ranging from Banner Making Workshops, Movie night, voting on community project ideas, People’s Vote March and Debate night. Over 100 students engaged on these events with positive comments recorded.
For those that attended and/or are interested in the People’s Vote March, there is an option to email your local MPs to voice your opinion.
These aims have driven Youth in Democracy to extend collaboration with external organisations sharing similar values such as The Common Sense Network (TCS). TCS is news network for millennials and written by millennials. It provides accessible education on politics, economics, social and cultural issues thereby empowering students and promoting more active citizenship. TCS mantra is ‘bringing opposite sides together’ in an effort to combat echo chambers prevalent in student communities by hosting live debates. For the first time at the University, Conservative, Politics, Labour, Feminist Society Presidents and BAME ambassadors discussed topics such as Brexit, Free Speech and Identity. This created a platform for students from different political backgrounds and social circles to interact together and more importantly, challenging each other’s opinions and views.
Upcoming projects are in the development namely ‘Educating Kirklees’. This project is centred around working with local colleges to empower youths in democracy and importantly create a bridge between Higher Education and Post-16 Education. The government National Citizen Service (NCS) was created to on help 15-17 years olds develop personal and socially and become active citizens in their communities, however, there is not a strong emphasis on building on the skills and knowledge these students learn during the NCS program. Educating Kirklees aims to work with the local NCS graduates and build on their knowledge, providing workshops, mentorship and experience on campus.