As part of an event hosted by Youth platforms My Life My Say, UK Youth and the #iwill campaign, young people had the chance to ask the Labour party leader Keir Starmer a bit about himself and how his party is going to be including young people more in politics.
We know full well that there’s a huge gap between young people and politicians who often fail to engage you, which only makes you feel even more like politics doesn’t relate to you. So, having made the step of engaging directly with young people sounds promising.
Before the event he told Naked Politics that “Young people are often the first to feel the effects of an economic downturn and an entire generation are facing disruption and lack of opportunities long after this pandemic has ended.”
It is vital that young peoples’ voices are heard in the discussion of how we want to rebuild society post-pandemic. We owe it to young people to ensure that their hope, fears, and concerns are addressed.”
So, here’s our lowdown of what Keir had to say about the issues young people brought to the table.
Politics and the response to the Coronavirus being too “London Centric” at the expense of regional areas.
So, it’s probably fair to say that politics is often geared towards the capital and the south; regional areas can get forgotten. Keir agreed, saying that with Coronavirus the pandemic is now actually worse in some regional areas such as the North West and North East. He says that he’s been working with regional mayor and council leaders, but that too much power is in Westminster. He said he’d like to see more power and resources in regional areas.
The “lost generation” of young people affected by the Coronavirus
Keir really wants young people to be back in education ASAP as long as it’s safe, as he thinks there’s a huge disparity in the standard of home education, depending on how privileged your background is. He also advocated for bringing back something called “The Future Jobs Fund” which was “a £1 billion scheme set up by the last Labour government to help mainly young unemployed people back into work.”
He also backed youth platforms that work to get young people engaged in politics, and said that lowering the voting age to 16 was a must.
The image of mental health on young people, particularly ethnic minorities who are disproportionately impacted
Keir wants more resources going into mental health, including more mental health support staff to ensure young people get the help they need as soon as possible. He also said that the economy needed to be measured not just in terms of people’s perceived productivity but their mental wellbeing too.
Greater support for young students with disabilities, many of whom have struggled to adjust to lots of online learning
Keir advocates for prioritising face to face learning for the students who need it most, to ensure they still get a high standard of education that suits their needs.
So, he’s taking an interest in young people and that’s definitely a good start. We’re looking forward to what we can keep doing to ensure that young people are a part of these conversations and get to be the change makers we know they deserve to be!
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