Why young people should get engaged in politics – NCS grad, Nathan

ncs 20/05/2019

With the European elections coming up, we caught up with NCS grad, Nathan. Whether it’s Brexit, the NHS or the environment, it’s pretty hard to stay away from the world of politics. But wouldn’t it be nice to have someone talk about all these important issues in a more straightforward and unbiased way? Well, since going on NCS, Nathan has started up his very own political news website, The Speaker where he talks about politics and how vital it is for young people to be involved.

When someone says ‘politics’, the first thing that comes to mind is most likely Brexit – the UK’s planned departure from the European Union. Since the Brexit vote back in 2016, politics has regularly been top of the news headlines and this looks set to continue for some time.

Politics can generally be defined as how the country is run. However, while Brexit is one of the more well-known political topics, it certainly is not the only one that impacts our daily lives. In fact, politics impacts us in many ways we probably don’t even realise. For example, decisions made in politics state we have to stay in education until 18 and affect services in the community like hospitals and public parks. Did you travel somewhere by bus or train this morning? Guess what – your journey was also most likely impacted by politics.

In the UK, we live in a democracy where everybody has the opportunity to have their say on issues which will impact our lives, and the lives of the next generation. In history, campaigners such as Millicent Fawcett from the suffragette movement have battled hard for the opportunity to make their voices heard. As young people today, we have the opportunity to shape our futures, and we can do this by getting involved in politics.

Politics can seem confusing and complicated, often leading many to not get involved and have their say on important issues. In 2018, along with four other A-Level Politics students in Norwich, I set up the political news website speakerpolitics.co.uk, on a mission to inspire the next generation in politics. 

As young people ourselves, we felt there wasn’t really anything out there to make political news accessible and understandable for everyone. That’s why today, we serve an audience in over 130 countries across the globe, hosting impartial and understandable coverage of the latest political news stories while also explaining how politics works through our #InspireNextGen campaign. 

So, you might be thinking, “I’m not old enough to vote – how can I get engaged?” Well, in recent weeks and months, young people have led the way in calling for change, especially on issues such as climate change.

The Extinction Rebellion and Strike4Climate movements have seen thousands of young people take the opportunity to have their say on the future, urging governments to act on climate change and global warming. So far, countries including the United Kingdom and Ireland have declared climate emergencies and have pledged to tackle these issues – a great example of what youth involvement in politics can achieve.

Joining a protest march about the environment is one way to get involved, but there are many different ways you can make a difference. This could be by writing to your MP about your opinion on your local school or bus service, or signing an online petition about animal rights (or another topic of your choice). You could even visit Parliament in London and watch politics take place live in action. Whatever your opinions on politics, you have the opportunity to get involved and have your say.

For NCS grads over the age of 18, you can vote in the European Elections this Thursday 23 May if you are registered to vote. This is your chance to elect a representative who represents your views and opinions to work in the EU Parliament. While the UK remains in the European Union, the laws it makes can directly affect us, so it is vital that you have your say – if you don’t vote, you can’t complain if things don’t go your way!

During my time on NCS, I was given the opportunity to help improve my local community and learn vital life skills to prepare me for the future. Politics also gives you the opportunity to make the changes you want to see, and that’s why organisations like NCS and The Speaker believe it is so important for young people to be politically engaged.

Decisions made today will impact us not only tomorrow but for generations to come. The more we know about politics, the more we can speak up – and the more we speak up, the more we’ll be heard.