5 UK Initiatives Boosting Political Engagement in 2017

An overview of some of the most inspiring UK-based projects seeking to harness political engagement and advocacy.

von Olwen Smith, January 18, 2018
Political Engagement UK

Looking back on the General Election 2017 from three months down the line, it is fair to say that it was miserable for a lot of people, for a variety of reasons. But for one demographic it was one of the most engaging and memorable elections yet: young people. For the first time in decades young people were mobilised to get out and vote on issues they care about. Turnout was at a 25-year high, boosted by more young people heading to the polls. More than half of those aged 18-24 turned out to vote, an increase of 16 percentage points on 2015. This is a phenomenal step for a generation that many had written off after Brexit. So how can this political passion and power be harnessed?

Here are five UK programmes and initiatives that are helping people to get engaged and campaign on a daily basis for political issues that they are passionate about.

  1. Reclaim
  2. Team Future 
  3. The Advocacy Academy 
  4. Campaign Bootcamp 
  5. People and Planet

1. Reclaim

Reclaim is a youth leadership and social change organisation which seeks to put an end to the inequality that prevents working class young people with talent, imagination, ambition and drive, from fulfilling their leadership potential. They have created an intensive residential leadership programme for 12-15 year olds  and  are also currently developing their Alumni Network to support those who have completed the programme. Driven by the belief that the best solutions for social injustice lie with those who are its biggest victims, they work with these young people to create programmes and campaigns that have a lasting impact on their local communities - one such example being Team Future (see below).

You can read more about Reclaim's work here.

2. Team Future

Team Future is a campaign collective born out of Reclaim, starting as a group of working class young people from Greater Manchester, who came together as a response to Brexit. Feeling excluded from a decision that would have a profound impact on their future, and dismayed by the power games and divisive politics that had taken hold on both sides of the debate, they vowed to build something good from the chaos.

As a youth-led campaign collective, Team Future aim to strengthen the political power and voice of marginalised young people seeking a more united and inclusive future. Meeting regularly in Manchester - and planning to expand around the country- the group hopes to shatter stereotypes and ensure young working class voices hold a genuine place at the decision making table.

This video pretty much says it all (or head here to find out more)

3.The Advocacy Academy

For young people in Year 12 and 13, The Advocacy Academy is the place to harness political passion. Over 8 months, young leaders from marginalised communities are trained to pursue social justice in a tangible way. They are given the knowledge and practical skills that they need to tackle some of the biggest challenges we as a society are facing. It all happens through bi-monthly retreats and monthly evening classes, which bring together speech writers, designers, social media experts and many more advocacy experts who are willing to share their expertise. Why? Because according to a 2014 ipsos mori poll, young people from poorer families are 29% less likely to participate in democratic action than their more affluent peers.

You can find out more about the Advocacy Academy here.

Political Engagement in the UK
The General Election in 2017 was a noteworthy election, particularly post-Brexit. For the first time in decades, young people were mobilised to get out and vote on issues they care about. Turnout was at a 25-year high, boosted by more young people heading to the polls. More than half of those aged 18-24 turned out to vote, an increase of 16 percentage points on 2015. So how can this political passion and power be harnessed?

4. Campaign Bootcamp

This one isn’t just for young people. In fact it’s for the “brightest and best from across the country”.  Although it started as a one-off event designed to shake up the campaign sector, Campaign Bootcamp now run regular residential campaign trainings for activists from all walks of life. Organisations can send their campaigners or you can take part as an individual. Due to the huge demand for Campaign Bootcamp’s residential programmes, they have also launched ‘Everyday Activism’ a local campaign training programme which includes both online and offline coaching and support.

This video gives a great insight in what Campaign Bootcamp is all about:

Or you can find out more about Campaign Bootcamp here.

5. People and Planet 

People and Planet is an ambitious, student-led movement which aims to empower young people in the UK to defend Human Rights, tackle world poverty and fight climate change. They run a wide range of campaigns, including ‘Sweatshop Free’ which fights for workers’ rights for sweatshop labourers and ‘Fossil Free’ which promotes divestment from fossil fuels and calls out greenwashing of many industries. The People & Planet groups network has over 50 groups at universities and colleges across the UK which run regular events. You can find out what initiatives are ongoing in your region here.

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Originally published September 12, 2017