General Election 2019: #iwill Ambassadors reflect on the power of youth voice and share their hopes and concerns for a future government

12th November 2018.

Too often, young people’s voices are not recognised. This is particularly true in general elections, where young people are often dismissed as unlikely to vote, and where the definition of the “youth vote” can go up to age 34.

Our #iwill Ambassadors, many of whom are voting for the very first time, have been passionately putting forth their voices. From gang grooming to climate change to a youth mental health crisis – they demand action from leaders and decision makers.

Whilst critical, these issues are not without hope. Read below to see how AnnaDanJonelleJoshTarynJoanaNyasha and Lanai feel that the next government can act in the interest of young people.

The opinions of #iwill Ambassadors are their own and do not necessarily reflect those of the #iwill campaign and its partners. 

Lanai Collis-Phillips, member of WASSUP (Women Against Sexual Exploitation and Violence Speak Up), shared her insight on how politics can be personal, and makes a plea for a voters to consider the most vulnerable in society. You can read her full article here

“If young women can take control of their bodies and come together to challenge oppression and abuse this is a deeply political act. When women raise awareness of their rights and opportunities, this is as much a political act as volunteering at a foodbank or clearing up natural spaces. 

Day to day, I hear a lot of people saying that the main political parties have little to offer young people. They say that politics is somehow ‘broken’.  I hear that it is silly and idealistic to want more than “Getting Brexit Done.”

I am suspicious of this cynicism – particularly where I see it in the media. I can’t help but feel that it’s part of an effort to turn off young voters who are attracted to more radical agenda, and who want to reverse the horror of austerity which has had such a disproportionate effect on the lives of young people.”

Anna McGovern, Chair of the Medway Youth Council and Member of UK Youth Parliament for Medway, wrote for The Political Medway about the factors influencing young people’s engagement with the election. Read the article here.

“Young people should be taught the basics of our political systems; the foundations of how they were curated, the policies each political party advocates towards, the difference between a Member of Parliament and a community councillor – the true essence of what politics really is.

If schools do not teach young people about politics, young people have to take the initiative to learn what they can about our political discourse. Not all of them will.”

How does it feel to vote for the first time? Joana Baptista, Lanai Collis-Phillips and Josh Collins spoke to QuickTake by Bloomberg.

Jonelle Awomoyi shared her concerns about the youth mental health crisis with the Daily Mirror. Read the full article here.

“Young people are passionate about mental health – with many taking active steps as advocates and campaigners – something I discovered through my own work as a Member of Youth Parliament in Croydon.

Yet we still face huge mental health challenges, partly due to social media and its distorting influence on how we view our lives.

Since 2017, the number of children seeking help from CAMHS (Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services) has more than doubled in England.

Our awareness-raising is meaningless if decision makers continue to underfund youth mental health services. Why should we campaign with “It’s okay to ask for help” if asking just puts you on an eighteen month long waiting list?”

Dazed interviewed Joana Baptista, Taryn Everdeen and Nyasha Duri about how their climate activism has influenced their voting intention. You can read the full article here.

“Taryn: Seeing people protest on the street and take action in their own lives to reduce their individual impact on the planet is fantastic, but if we are to truly mitigate the effects of climate change, it is essential that we get politicians on board with implementing policies that tackle the sources of the problems directly.

Climate action is what the people want, and I hope that politicians will respond to this and deliver on their promises. I don’t want to hear empty words; I want to see action.”

Dan Lawes, Founder of Youth Politics UK, wrote for the Daily Mirror about whether any party had sufficient offer for young people. Read Dan’s full article here.

“Will young people capitalize on the most powerful form of democratic accountability? As the Founder and CEO of YouthPolitics UK, I have spoken to thousands of young adults in universities and sixth forms across the country.It appears the question is not if they are motivated to turnout and vote – they are. In fact, they have registered to vote in their masses.

The question really is, do they have anyone to vote for? […]

The climate strikes, twitter storms and voter registration statistics show that we have made significant progress, but the current state of our political parties show that there is a long way to go. We stand at the ready, not just to ensure that young people are taken seriously by decision makers, but to ensure that young people themselves become the decision makers.”

Nyasha Duri, environmental campaigner, shares why young people cannot wait any longer for action on the climate crisis. You can read her full article for the Daily Mirror here

“Young people cannot afford more excuses from parties on why they are not prioritising the environment. Our health is suffering, and across the world our peers are already dying from the climate crisis – with indigenous communities affected the most, as advocates such as Canada’s Autumn Peltier remind us.

In the last year, we have seen children rise up in their hundreds of thousands to demand international climate action. In my work on sustainability, I have seen a real increase in the understanding that young people must be central to the conversation. Despite this, Greta Thunberg made headlines this week for saying that the global school strikes she has inspired “have achieved nothing”, as levels of CO2 continue to rise.”

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Update: 

Following the election, a number of #iwill Ambassador added their voices to BBC Sounds “The Next Episode”, which collated 100 voice notes of young people under 25 responding to the election results.