What happens when you put 50+ young people from across the UK in the same room as politicians, activists, charities and figureheads from Channel 4? Policy announcements, excitement and lots of strong opinions - that’s what, as Crowd DNA associate director, Liz Cheesbrough, reports…
Over the last eight years of running UK Tribes, we’ve seen youth attitudes and aspirations shift dramatically. We’ve clung on during the recession, born the brunt of university fees, got down to grime and high to EDM, got to grips with FOMO, FOBO, YOLO… And to top it all off, had first-hand experience of Tinder’s #rightswipe causing RSI.
Since the dawn of the teenager, media and political perception of 16-24s has too often focused on these shiny, exciting and novel elements of growing up – and often used them to forecast generational downfalls. But with political apathy assumed normal for 16-24s, genuine youth priorities rarely make the political agenda – so Channel 4’s Policy And Participation Event turned the tables to find out what really matters to young people in the UK today.
The event saw our Tribes get right in the middle of the action – discussing political involvement with Krishnan Guru-Murthy, considering new youth policy from Nicky Morgan MP and debating with major campaigners and politicians from across the major parties. And the biggest priorities raised on the day painted a very different picture to the stereotypes we usually see…
Young people aren’t un-political – but they have lost faith in the political system and feel cheated by parties that don’t share their values. Labour and the Greens are coming out top for 16-24s as the coalition has burnt their bridges, and they believe the voting age should be lowered to 16, turbo-charged by youth in the Scotland Referendum.
Policy isn’t addressing the issues that matter to them – instead it feeds the assumptions of ‘middle class warriors’ in Westminster. Education and work are the top priorities for this generation, but policy follows media portrayals in focusing on drugs, alcohol and online bullying.
The people that represent them aren’t relevant – but campaigners and online political engagement are leading the way. Asked to get out of their suits and in to the shoes of young people, campaigners called for popular politics that fits in to their digital lifestyle and authentically engages them.
Above all, the key finding was politics shouldn’t be for some – it should be for all. Political education is a vital tool if young people are going to have a stake in society and a way to change the world and their lives for better – as FGM campaigner Leyla Hussein shared: “In school you should learn about finance, relationships and politics – algebra doesn’t get you anywhere in real life challenges”
For the full PDF, click here.