Are young people really the ‘lost generation’?Terry Ryall
Young people have more to offer the Big Society than the media makes out, says Terry Ryall.
For as long as I can remember I've been inspired by young people. I've learned from them, laughed with them and mentored them. Helping young people to reach their potential is part of my DNA. It's what makes me feel alive and remain optimistic. Yet in this turbulent time, young people are making the headlines for all the wrong reasons.
They've been stigmatised as the 'lost generation'. There is a real risk of them being ignored and overlooked. And yet they remain a huge social and economic asset, with energy, talents andideas that make them a powerful force for change.
We've seen an up-surge of youth activism in recent months, as young adults rallied against fees and public sector cuts.
The recession has also prompted a very important debate around the role of young people and their ability to manage and direct their future in this 'age of austerity'. In taking to the streets, young people have sent us a message, loud and clear - 'We are not apathetic. We care about our future. Politics matters to us. Please listen.'
The project was set up in response to research which found that young people felt frustrated about their lack of influence over the government. The digital project challenged young adults (16 - 25), from all backgrounds, to discuss the problems they faced in their local communities, connect with politicians and offer recommendations on how to take real action.
The national campaign was supported by a number of high profile guests including leading think tanks, politicians, local councillors, entrepreneurs and youth activists.
We have issued a report which follows the five month youth consultation process and the results see young people advising MPs to hold virtual MP surgeries and use social media to listen and engage with constituents.
Young people outlined a five point plan for politicians in their 'Rules of Engagement' to help key influencers reach out to the next generation of online activists:
- Hold a virtual clinic and speak to your constituents online. Webinars or tweetchats make it easy for younger constituents to share their views, opinions and ideas.
- The art of conversation: Social media tools allow politicians to not only broadcast a message, but also to start real conversations and listen to people's views and concerns.
- There's an app for that: NESTA has launched an App to help MPs keep their constituents up to date.
- Become a leader online: Twitter is a great platform for campaigning and sharing knowledge. MPs can register on Tweetminster to share and discuss the most important news of the day as rated by politicians, civil servants, activists, academics, business analysts and journalists.
- Buddy-up: For politicians new to social media, why not invite a digitally savvy young person to help with your digital engagement strategy? You can advertise your volunteering opportunities for free at www.vinspired.com
On behalf of v I want to personally thank you for taking part and making the Big Society's Big Mouth project such a success. We hope to keep this platform open as a place for you to continuing discussing your ideas and inspiration for a bigger, better society.
Terry Ryall, chief executive, v, The National Young Volunteers' Service