It’s odd, isn’t it? The varied reactions people have to politics. Some get involved with it and then wish they hadn’t. Others can’t bear any mention of it. And young people? Well, we should just keep our distance from politics, shouldn’t we? It’s just boring. Leave it to all the older generation!
That is the kind of attitude, that as young people, we should avoid at all costs. If we, an entirely different generation, just say “Ach! We’ll not bother – we’ll just leave it to someone else”, then I think our future just gets that little bit less bright.
Of course, times are constantly changing! And recently, young people across the country have been ditching the apathy and getting involved in politics. Just look at the Scottish Independence Referendum and more recently Brexit. Around the UK, young people have been having amazing discussions and engaging in the debates. Whether this is reflection of how much they had invested in the results, or perhaps a response to the recognition that young people have a lot to contribute to politics, nonetheless it has been great to see.
The voting age in Scotland has been lowered to 16 and even the age of our MPs and MSPs is lowering, as young people don’t simply engage in debates, but put themselves forward as prospective politicians. In the 2015 General Election, for example, Mhairi Black was voted in as an MP at just 20 years of age and is now the “Baby of the House”, the youngest MP in the House of Commons. At 21, Ross Greer found himself the youngest ever member of the Scottish Parliament when he was elected this year. Young people are, by no means, excluding themselves from politics.
But the challenge is to keep it that way. There are still those who don’t see the point of politics and that’s fair enough. Politicians and their policies can sometimes seem a world away from the lives of young people and the issues they face on a daily basis. Politics is still branded by some as a boring, dull and pointless pastime for older people to enjoy. Some young people just don’t get how their voice can be heard.
But the voices of youth can indeed be heard, young people can get involved in making the decisions which affect their future. For those who feel they don’t get any say in the running of this country, there is a way.
U-Report is a Unicef initiative; a social messaging tool allowing any young person from anywhere in the world to respond to questions through polls sent direct to your phone and help to change life for the better. It’s a platform through which the views of young people, ready for change, are then voiced to decision-makers and politicians around the world.
As a platform that was first established in Uganda in 2010, it has expanded to now have almost 2.5 million users in 27 countries and counting! What’s exciting is that Unicef UK has just launched their own version of U-Report. Meaning young people in the UK have the chance to become a part of the U-Report global community.
Free tools like U-Report have the amazing capacity to make a difference much more quickly, all the way up from the grass-roots, right to capitals of the world and international organisations. And I strongly recommend young people in the UK grasp it with both hands – I certainly will be!
By signing up via Facebook or Twitter, you can speak out on issues that matter to you and then see your results in real-time on the U-Report . It is vital that we, as young people, are active in our communities, holding decision-makers to account, ensuring they are always acting in our best interests. For the best chance of achieving this and to give young people an opportunity to flourish, become a U-Reporter today!