Six in ten young voters turned out to the polling stations this May, but it is important that youth involvement in politics continues to rise. It has been reported that 58 per cent of 18-24 year-olds voted in the 2015 UK General Election, which is an increase from 44 per cent in 2010. Young people made up a potential 6.8 million votes, which was enough to decide the election result, and this influenced the political parties to create policies that appeal to under-25s. This power must prevail in order to secure positive changes to the issues that continue to affect today’s youth.

A national campaign was launched by the youth charity vInspired to increase young people’s understanding of the political system and to ensure that they recognise the value of their vote, for this year and for future elections. Moira Swinbank, Chief Executive of vInspired says: ‘We have always known that young people are not apathetic. They are hugely interested in the issues affecting our society. Our challenge has been to help them see that voting is a way to make a difference to the things they are so passionate about’.

One of the most popular youth channels, E4, which reaches 8.7 million 16-34 year-olds every month, also got involved in encouraging young people to vote this general election by shutting down broadcasts on polling day. Dan Brooke, Channel 4’s Chief Marketing Officer says: ‘Less than half of under-25s voted at the last election so we’ve engaged the most powerful weapon that we have at our disposal to try and boost that number – switching off their favourite TV channel for the day’.

There are several ways that young people can stay politically active post-election, including writing to their MP, becoming a member of a political party, attending demonstrations, lobbying government or joining a trade union. Neil Adams, parliamentary candidate for the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC), considers how politics affects young people and why they should get involved:

What are the issues affecting young people today?

Zero-hour contracts are hitting young people that work in the fast food industry and in retail: they’ve got no job security and they’ve got no feeling of [partaking] in society. Also, young people at the moment, if they are under a certain age, get lower than the minimum wage which is not fair, as they can’t earn the same money as someone else who is doing the same work but is older than them. Tuition fees basically involve having to take out loans, which is like having another mortgage before you’ve even started life: they have to get in massive debt to get an education. Young people can flourish if they have their own houses and develop independently, but you’ve got young people in their 20s and early 30s still living with their parents, the rents are so high, they’ve got nowhere to go, so they are stifled’.

Why is it important for young people to get involved with politics?

‘Do the cuts affect you? Does austerity affect you? Then politics affects you. The establishment parties are ruling everything that you rely on. The youth can have a stake in that, they can decide their future as young people are the future. They live in the society; they are fully functioning people who are able to make decisions themselves, and there is no reason why they shouldn’t be able to have a say in how society is run. Young people will be at the forefront of the movements: moving forward they’ll be the ones who need to be politicised, and they need to be confident that they can change society’.

What would make more young people vote?

‘Seeing what’s possible, that’s the main thing. Young people don’t need empty promises, they need to see something concrete happening, if they haven’t got that, why [would] they […] end up voting? I think people’s consciousness is only really shaped by what they experience, the conditions around them – and if they don’t see a change then they are not going to believe you. So many elections are followed by broken promises.

‘It’s a democratic right for people that are adults to vote, but the problem is giving young people something to vote for, giving them a feeling of ownership of their future and their lives. It’s no wonder that young people’s imaginations aren’t fired up when they see us attacking countries and blaming one another’.

Find out more about vInspired’s ‘Swing the Vote’ campaign at www.vinspired.com/swingthevote