Rushanara Ali, MP for Bethnal Green and Bow and Shadow Minister for Education has co-launched the My Voice, My Vote a new, independent all-party campaign to support young first time voters to take social action in their community as a way to encourage their involvement in the democratic process.
My Voice, My Vote is a programme led by UpRising, a youth social action charity whose Chair and co-founder is Rushanara Ali MP and whose Patrons are the Prime Minister, David Cameron, Leader of the Opposition, Ed Miliband and Deputy Prime Minister, Nick Clegg.
The campaign will help first time voters launch social action projects to address real and pressing issues in their communities. Courses will assist thousands of young people who will be eligible to vote at the next election with leadership, media, public speaking and management skills and work with them to help launch local public interest campaigns.
My Voice, My Vote will encourage young people to feel part of their community we will build first time voters’ interest in the democratic process. UpRising will begin its activities in the summer of 2014, launching in London, Birmingham, Liverpool, Manchester, Stoke and Luton. In London, a total of 120 young people will take part.
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.
Youth engagement is social action is also low in Britain today. 29 per cent of young people aged 18-25 take part in regular volunteering within their community compared to 59 per cent amongst the same age group in Canada, according to research by the think-tank Demos. Organisations such as the nationwide campaign Step Up to Serve is seeking to encourage greater volunteering and youth participation in community campaigning; other campaigns such as Bite the Ballot are seeking to boost voter registration by young people: UpRising supports all of these campaigns, and the My Voice, My Vote initiative adds to these efforts by, for the first time, encouraging social action as a direct way of stimulating interest in voting and the democratic process.
As part of the campaign political representatives are pledging to support the following aims across the country:
Rushanara Ali MP pledges to:
- Encourage young people in my area to get involved in social action that benefits both them and their community
- Introduce young people to other leaders in my area who could help them with their social action campaigns.
- Encourage young people in my area to register to vote
- Encourage young people in my area to come and join me on my General Election campaign
- ·Hold a youth hustings during the election campaign so issues of interest to first time voters can be addressed directly
Rushanara Ali MP said:
“I’m delighted to be launching the My Voice, My Vote Campaign to increase young people’s engagement in politics and the democratic process through taking social action. 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”.