Trying to analyse the motives, and motivators, of young people is a fool’s errand.
But fool I am, and a piece of analysis from Annie Austin of Manchester University left me veering from gazing morosely into the middle distance to kicking the box of papers under my desk – young people are lowering their aspirations and jettisoning the seize-the-day mentality that has historically defined the characteristics of youth.
The financial crisis that began in 2008 will be felt by young people for years to come. It chastened financial institutions and gave the Government the confidence to wither state support under the guise of reigning in a reckless behemoth.
Policies targeting economic recovery have left one group trailing behind – the young. Why? Simply, we are worth less to political parties because we don’t tend to vote.
In less than 50 days, the UK will make a decision on its future in Europe, based largely on screeching headlines, manipulated statistics and disgracefully poor education on the complex issues of European integration and institutions.
Young people are more likely to be pro-EU than older generations, but are less likely to take active steps to ensure we remain inside. This lack of active participation is already leading to the easy disregard of the needs of young people.
The established EU campaigns are not gaining traction with young people on the scale that is necessary to ensure the result they seek.
Leaving them to it was not a risk I was willing to take, so I established www.inftw.co.uk to mobilise a broad base of young support for staying in the EU. Beyond providing access to factual information on the EU relevant to young people, we are teaching them how to effectively mobilise, campaign and achieve meaningful results.
This must deliver practical measures to boost their representation at the local and national democratic level. InFTW’s focus beyond the referendum will turn to the crisis in housing that disproportionally hinders young people. Left behind by an artificially inflated market and successive governments that have kowtowed to ageing green-belters who prioritise horse-grazing land and golf courses over the needs of the UK’s young citizens who need homes.
We’ll be working to get young people elected to local councils and onto planning committees where they can unclog the turgid U-bend of housing policy.
Participation has to be more than signing petitions.
* Katie Pruszynski, Speakeasy Communications