‘It’s time for young people to be heard’: Young people gather for meeting ahead of General Election

As the General Election campaign enters its final week, more than 100 young people – many from the UK’s most disadvantaged communities – gathered together in South London to share their thoughts about the future of politics.

Youth Power: Election Hour, organised by the Back Youth Alliance, saw young people aged between 14 and 25 years old meet at Lambeth Town Hall, in Brixton Hill, to discuss why they do not feel heard by politicians, and what more they can do to help shape their futures.

Recent research by Opinium showed that only one in 10 young people aged eight to 17 believe politicians focus on the needs of young people when making decisions, but 88 per cent of young people believe it is important to have a say in the decisions politicians make about public life.

Kwajo Twenebo speaking at the meeting yesterday (Picture: Back Youth 2024, Jo Rogers)

The group was joined by Alastiar Campbell, best-known for his work as former Prime Minister Tony Blair’s spokesperson, Salma Shah, public policy advisor and Special Adviser to Home Secretary Sajid Javid from 2018 to 2019, and social housing and youth campaigner Kwajo Twenebo.

In 2020, Mr Twenebo, now 25, from Mitcham, took on one of the country’s biggest social landlords, Clarion, after watching his dying father nursed in their vermin-infested flat.

Now, he champions all those living in terrible conditions by exposing landlords to his 81.8k X followers and campaigning for better housing.

Mr Tweneboa said: “I know young people have strong opinions, we just don’t often get a chance to be heard by people in charge! 

“That’s why this event matters. All this election we’ve had so many politicians telling us what they think is best for young people. Now it’s time for young people to be heard.”

Salma Shah and Alastiar Campbell in Lambeth Town Hall for the Election Hour meeting (Picture: Back Youth 2024, Jo Rogers)

According to new Duke of Edinburgh’s Award research, 53 per cent of those aged 18 and above said they were interested in UK politics. But, only four in 10 of those eligible to vote said they would be likely to cast their ballot at the General Election on Thursday. 

At the event, young people learnt more about how politics works and top tips on effective campaigning and making their voices heard in the years ahead. 

Mr Campbell drew from his new book, Alastair Campbell Talks Politics – an introduction to politics which aims to make politics relatable for young people – to explain how the country is run, how elections and voting work, and how to get involved.

Social housing campaigner Kwajo Twenebo speaks at the meeting in Lambeth Town Hall (Picture: Back Youth 2024, Jo Rogers)

Speaking at the meeting, he said: “At its best politics is a force for good. But we have seen so much of the bad in politics in recent years and it has to change. 

“I am convinced that young people are the key to the change in the debate that is needed. 

“But they need to become more engaged and more involved. At the moment old people vote more than young people. 

“I want to persuade young people not just to vote but also to understand that all of their ideas and energy are going to be needed if the country is going to be turned around and deliver the kind of progress they want.”

Youth leaders Lauren Bennett, aged 19 from Gloucestershire, and Ayesha Karim, 21, from East London, hosted the event.

Pictured top: Back Youth members at the Election Hour meeting on Monday (Picture: Back Youth 2024, Jo Rogers)

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