What matters to me in #GE2024: Youth Engagement

Emmanuel, 17, shares what matters in this election

What matters to me in #GE2024: Youth Engagement

As a member of the youth parliament for Leeds and a youth ambassador, I am deeply passionate about making a positive impact on my wider community and understand the importance of youth engagement in the upcoming UK general election on 4th July. This election presents a crucial opportunity for young people to have their voices heard, influence policy decisions, and shape the future of our country. This general election is also an opportunity for young people to challenge the next government to tackle issues affecting the young people, ultimately aiding them in improving their quality of life.

There are various reasons why youth engagement is crucially important to this upcoming general election. Firstly, the power of youth voice through young people actively coming together proves that we can bring about social change. This has been proven by various youth campaigns like BiteBack, MyLifeMySay and iwill_movement which have aided in amplifying youth voices across the UK ensuring that we have a platform to speak up on. By advocating for change within our schools, local communities, cities young people will actually be taken seriously by those who make decisions, and the next government can positively work together with young people to ensure that their future is secure.

If politicians were committed to engaging more with young voters, it could lead to increased political awareness and civic participation among young people. Young people these days have the passion for politics but lack the political capital to make decisions for themselves on who to support, or what issues matter most to them. This general election acts like a perfect tool to educate young people on which candidates are standing for prime minister and introduce them to the world of politics. 

Recently Dame Rachel de Souza, the Children’s Commissioner for England, called on political leaders to hold a leaders’ debate for children – a notion I support. Having a debate for children world provides them with a platform to express their opinions, contribute to public discourse on important issues while being able to hold politicians to account. 

As the next government is elected, youth engagement will allow young people to raise awareness of important issues that significantly matter to them such as mental health support for youth, affordable housing, environmental sustainability, and access to quality education and employment opportunities. 

Earlier this year, I alongside other members of youth Parliament for Leeds, actively campaigned for the Make Your Mark results, which is a national ballot with key issues and priorities that affect young people. We managed to go around schools and ask young people to vote for the top 3 issues that were important to them, which would then be added up to a national total score. In the end, it was revealed that 512,606 young people voted for Health and Well-being as the most important issue, following up with crime and safety as well as culture, media and sport. This proves why youth engagement is so vital for this general election as actively engaging with political leaders and challenging them with questions in debates, can ensure that these critical issues are prioritized by the government and included in policy discussions.

Youth engagement in the upcoming UK general election is essential for building a more inclusive, representative democracy and creating a brighter future for all. By actively participating in the electoral process, young people can make their voices heard, influence policy decisions, and drive positive change in society. I urge my fellow young citizens to register to vote, engage with political candidates, and take an active role in shaping the future of our country on 4th July. Together, we can create a more equitable and just society for all – while young people might only be 20% of the population, we are 100% the future.


Emmanuel is a guest contributor and writes from Leeds

Header Image Credit: Elissa Garcia via Pexels

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