October and November promise to be rewarding months, with so many events waiting for you that your only worry will be how to fit them all in!

Alongside both Sheffield University and the Economic and Social Research Council, Shout Out UK is thrilled to be involved in a new motion to encourage political discourse amongst young people.

The aim is to get more people understanding and caring about the influence of politics, because no matter how much you insist you ‘don’t care’, it affects everything and everyone. From the path in education or employment you might want to take, to the flat you have your eye on in a bid to finally flee the nest, the decisions made by those in positions of political authority largely influence the opportunities you have, and sometimes don’t have, in life.

According to research gathered by the Crick Centre, another one of the organisations involved in the initiative, just 44 per cent of 18-24 year-olds voted in the 2010 general election, compared with 76 per cent of over 65s. Alongside ESRC and Sheffield University, Shout Out UK wants to change that. Below is a Q&A session with ESRC’s exchange fellow, Titus Alexander, as well as a list of upcoming events for anyone and everyone to get involved in.

ESRC and Democracy Matters Events Q&A with Titus Alexander:

1) What do you think is the main cause that political apathy in young people can be attributed to?

Many young people are not apathetic. They just don’t see the formal political system as a way of making a difference and channel their desire for social change in other ways, through social enterprise, charities, pressure groups, single issue campaigns or social media.

However, one thing which affects young people’s engagement in politics of any kind is the rise of consumer culture and the ability to get so many things on demand. If you see yourself primarily as a consumer, you choose between politicians and policies as if they were products. Being a consumer is very different from being an active citizen, which involves the difficult process of commitment, discussion and compromise.

Other things which affect young people’s engagement in formal politics [is] that it is not easy to understand – it is very remote, it is not clear what difference it makes to your everyday life, and it is difficult to see how you could affect anything. People feel powerless to influence things, when actually they can make a difference, if they know how. The media present politics as a kind of Punch and Judy show, or a soap opera full of weird characters who aren’t remotely like ordinary people. The expense scandal, constant criticism and attacks on each other also makes people think they are all out for themselves and  don’t care about ordinary people except at election times.

2) What exciting projects do you have coming up over the next 6-9 months that will engage young people in politics?

We are organising a series of events across the UK which will give people a chance to hear about and discuss constitutional changes affecting the UK, such as devolution. We’ve devised an interactive game for people to explore the issues, which will be fun as well as informative. And each event will also show people how they can influence decisions about the constitution.

3) Are there any other projects or bodies that you know are running similar events with like-minded aims?

Democracy Matters is a membership organisation and many of our members are organising activities, such as Bite the Ballot, Involve, Unlock Democracy, Citizenship Foundation, and more.

4) What is the one tip you would give to young people who are actively trying to engage in current affairs and politics?

My one tip would be: get out there, ask questions and focus on one thing where you can make a difference. Go to meetings and events about issues that concern you, ask questions about the issue, why it matters, what people are doing about it, who has the power to make a difference and how to influence them, then choose a cause you are most passionate about. Politics is very exciting, and a process of learning all the time. You can meet lots of interesting people, do interesting things and make the world a better place. Get involved.

Up and Coming Events:

ESRC Photography Competition – After its resounding success earlier this year, the ESRC are running another photography competition aimed at 14-18 year-olds. This time the theme is the ‘Focus on Society’ with a prize fund of £2,000 and the opportunity to have your photograph exhibited in a London gallery as well as participate in a tour to various locations across the UK. Your photo will also be shared on twitter with the hashtag #esrcphoto. Further details will be on their website by the end of the week so follow the link below to get involved. http://www.esrc.ac.uk/news-and-events/events/photographic-competition/

The Human Rights Act – On Saturday the 3rd of October, Sheffield for Democracy alongside the British Institute for Human Rights and MP Paul Blomfield’s ‘Big Conversations’, will be discussing the ever topical subject of human rights. With particular focus on the highly questioned new proposal for the British Bill of Rights, the afternoon’s activities are likely to be thoroughly interesting and not to be missed. Reserve your tickets here: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/fifteen-days-of-action-the-big-human-rights-debate-sheffield-registration-18311435998

Discussing Democracy: ESRC Knowledge Exchange Events:

Manchester, Tuesday the 6th of October. There is no booking necessary for this event. Talks will include the Cities & Devolution Bill, with speakers including Dr Andrew Mycock, Huddersfield University, 38 Degrees, Unlock Democracy and the Northern Citizens’ Convention,

Falmouth, Saturday the 7th of November (10am – 3pm) Booking necessary. Talks will include the Cornwall Devolution Deal and the Case for Cornwall.

Sheffield, 16th of November (6-9pm). Including talks from Dr Arianna Giovannini, Professor Matt Flinders & Vicky Seddon and the lovely people from Sheffield for Democracy… (as well as complimentary pizza!)

Edinburgh, 26th of November (7-9pm). Organised alongside Edinburgh Active Citizens, WEA, Ragged University and Professor Nicola McEwen of the ESRC Centre. Talks will be mainly focused on Constitutional Change and the Scotland Bill.

Southampton. The location and time of this event is yet to be confirmed. It will however certainly include talks from the University of Southampton’s Professors Matt Flinders, Gerry Stoker and William Jennings.

London. Taking place on either Monday the 30th of November or Wednesday the 7th of November, (TBC). The discussion with be on the All Party Group inquiry on the constitution, taking place at the Local Government Association.

How did you get involved in politics? – MPs talk

Organised by Shout Out UK themselves, the 14th of October between 6-8 pm will play home to a talk on how many household names got into politics. Including the likes of Channel 4 News’ Fatima Manji and Louise Haigh MP, Labour Party. The evening is likely to be of high interest in any young person’s political calendar. It is to be located in committee room 9, at the House of Commons.

Political Studies Association

1) London, 15th of October – PSA Annual Lecture, Steve Richards:  Leadership, Loyalty And The Rise of Jeremy Corbyn. From 18:00-20:00, JZ Young Lecture Theatre, Anatomy Building, UCL (Gower Street, London)

2) London, 21st of October – Magna Carta: A 21st Century Perspective & Book Launch. From 16:45-19:30, Institute for Government, London.

3) Manchester, 16th of November – PSA Sixth Form 2015 Parliament Week ‘Change your future: understand Parliament’ Workshop. From 13:00-16:00, People’s History Museum, Manchester.

4) York,  26th of November – PSA Annual Lecture, Baroness Afshar – Women and Islamophobia. From 18:30-20:00, Ron Cooke Hub Auditorium, University of York.

National Food Sovereignty Gathering and the Oil Justice Now Tour War On Want:

Includes speakers from Colombia, Mozambique, India, Uganda and the UK at ten events in Cardiff, Edinburgh, Bristol and London. Natalie Bennett, leader of the Green Party, will speak in London on the 22nd of October. The full list of events and venues can be found here: http://www.waronwant.org/media/oil-justice-now-stop-corporate-impunity

DISCLAIMER: The articles on our website are not endorsed by, or the opinions of Shout Out UK (SOUK), but exclusively the views of the author.