Get your month-by-month career action plan straight to your inbox
On Tuesday night, WhiteHat hosted an event for apprentices to come along and learn more about why voting is so important, ask their burning questions to a diverse panel of experts, and get inspired to use their voice in the upcoming election. There was so much that was talked about but this article outlines the top 5 things we took away from the event!
Massive thanks to Milltown Partners for providing the venue, and to our panelists Lewis Iwu (co-founder of Purpose Union), Kate Shouesmith (Director at Brunswick Group), Giles Derrington (Head of Public Affairs at Deliveroo), Busayo Twins (Strategic Policy Advisor, Office for Students) and our brilliant moderator, Doniya Soni (Programme Strategy and Operations Manager at WhiteHat). And an even bigger thanks to everyone who came, engaged and asked such thought provoking questions!
It’s estimated that as many as 50% of the population of the UK might change the way they vote in the next General Election so there is everything to play for. Your vote could radically change the outcome and future of the country. Turn up and have your say. Even if you live in an area where there is typically a huge majority for one party (e.g. it’s always the Conservative MP who wins by a large amount) your voice matters! In the last election, some seats were won or lost by as little as one vote. Get out there and have an impact with your vote!
If you feel confused about what’s going on in politics, or don’t know what different parties policies are, find out! The information is available, you just need to find it. Websites like the BBC are great for providing information in an easy to understand way.
You can get involved in politics without having to be an active supporter of a political party. When it comes to General Election time, you’ll need to vote, but you can inform what political parties focus on by joining or starting campaigns about things you care about outside of Election time.
There are so many examples of people-led movements (especially young people-led!) that are having a massive impact on a global scale; the response to Grenfell Tower (particularly how musicians and artists have used their influence to make this so high profile), the students from Parkland, fronted by Emma Gonzalez who have campaigned against gun laws in the US following a shooting at their school, climate change marches inspired by Greta Thunberg, the Free Periods campaign started by Amika George, and so many more!
Busayo told us “At University, I was President of my Student Union. We had Officers who were responsible for key areas like Welfare Officer, Women’s Officer etc. Unfortunately, many universities have a lot of “rich kids” and don’t understand where other people may have come from or their journey into higher education. I wanted to make sure that the experiences of students from less privileged backgrounds were being recognised and represented. To raise awareness, we ran a big campaign encouraging students from working class backgrounds to create content (blogs, poetry etc) to share with other students so they understood our experiences. The student body then voted in favour of this initiative so there is now a student representative for Social Mobility at the University.”
If you people want things to change, you need to become the voting majority! Kate said “I often wonder why the government is still spending money on things like free bus passes or television licences. And then I remember why… most people who vote are older, so the policies that are implemented are ones that favour them.” MPs want to be in power, because they believe their party’s policies are the best for the country. So naturally, they’re going to take action on the things the voting majority want to happen in order to stay in or get into power. If young people became the voting majority, the issues they care about (likely things like rising education costs, youth violence, climate change etc) would be put to the top of the agenda. And remember: Politicians work for you. If you want to fire them, have your say. If you want them to change what they focus on, have your say.
By the end of the event, we all felt so inspired to use our voice, educate ourselves and take action on the things we care about, whether through campaigning or seeking information that will help us make an informed decision at the next Election.
But one final point made us stop and think about how we’re using our influence. “The question is not how I’m getting myself to vote, it’s how am I getting every single other person I know to vote?”. The more voting is talked about amongst young people, the more young people will vote. Encourage your friends, start a conversation about issues that matter, post stuff on social media. If you want to see a change in this country, it’s more likely to happen if more people that are passionate are mobilised to use their voice! And voting doesn’t have to be boring! Make it a celebration. Giles told us that in Australia, they have BBQs on Election Day and make a big party of it!
And lastly, to touch on Brexit (because is it even a politics event if we don’t talk about Brexit?) - a simple explanation about a fairly complex matter from the inspiring Busayo Twins (follow her Instagram for daily digestible updates on Brexit!):
“Brexit is like a divorce. We are separating from an organisation we used to be part of. The new election is like looking for a new divorce lawyer (to oversee and support us through the process of separation)."