If you are a young person who has been working here at YG then we would have been nagging you to register so that you could vote. Now we are going to nag you to show up at the polling station this week to have your say.

Maybe you are well into politics and have been keeping up with all the manifesto announcements and debates, or maybe this is the first year you are getting the chance to vote and have no idea what you are getting involved in.

Staff here at Young Gloucestershire and Infobuzz thought it might be helpful, and maybe interesting to unpick some of the basics of the election process and share the reasons we think it is important you cast your vote this week.

Understanding the Basics of the Election.

The British political system can be complicated to understand and that’s before everyman and his dog starts sharing his opinion on social media, so where do you begin?

Claire Hope, YG’s Marketing and Communications Manager shares her secret source of information.

“You know who is great at tackling complicated issues whilst peeling back all the unnecessary fluffy language… Newsround! Do you remember watching that? It’s an award winning news programme aimed at kids. Now I’m definitely not in their target age range anymore but, their information is accurate, to the point and really easy to digest.”

Click her to read how Newsround explains the election process.

If you want a bit more detail try reading ‘The BBC’s Simple Guide to the General Election’ 

Now the big question. How do you figure out who to vote for?

Kat Fernell Counsellor with Infobuzz thinks “it's important for young people to vote so their generation gets a say in the issues that are important to them. Politics can be overwhelming but I personally focus on a few policies that mean something to me and judge the parties on those.” 

It can be tricky when all the parties are out there trying to convince you to vote for them. It can be more confusing when so many people around you have lots of different opinions and people keep shouting out ‘fake news!’

Our Mental Health Youth Worker Lauren Cairns suggests using a website called ‘Who gets my vote’. “You tick how you feel for about 30 different statements (you can even say you don’t know) and at the end it gives you an idea of which party your opinions are most in-line with. It’s a not for profit project and is not associated with any political party. It took me about ten minutes to complete – it’s definitely a good place to start." 

Carl Smith Community Youth Worker in our drop-in centre, The Link, says “people are welcome to pop into The Link and chat to us. We can’t tell you who to vote for but we would love to debate with you and we can help you do some research and figure out what’s important to you”.

Why should young people make sure they use their vote?

Anne, Manager for Infobuzz says it’s simple… “If you don’t vote you don’t have a voice”

Rize Up UK is a youth focused campaign encouraging young people and marginalised groups to use their voice and vote. “The system works, it’s just worked against us for too long. They don’t want young people to vote because if they did they would have to take them seriously.”  Rize Up’s infographic shows a shocking truth that the number of people who didn’t vote in the last election outnumbered the supporters of every other party added together.

Lisa, YG’s Finance Manager says “by voting you are shaping the future for your generation, Imagine for one minute if all those non-voters had their say…”

Chris Banting, YG’s Administrator says “policies are aimed at those who vote – if you are not a voter then parties won’t prioritise your needs.”

In this chart from the financial times you can see that young people generally make up the smallest group of voters. Older people tend to vote differently to younger people and so if more young people voted it could really chan​ge the way political parties prioritise issues. 

This article on the BBC talks about how increasing the number of young voters could create a real shift. “Groups with low turnouts tend to be of less interest to politicians who want to be elected. Why spend time chasing non-voters rather than concentrating all your energy and effort on those who do vote.”

Lois Norman a Children’s Counsellor for Infobuzz says “I think it is important to vote as otherwise we can’t hold the Government to account and inequality will continue in our society until we all have our say.”

So if you want to be able to moan about how the country is run; housing, benefits, wages, education, mental health support…all challenges and issues that we know the young people we work with face then do a bit of research – and get out there on Thursday and vote!