WITH three weeks to go until the general election, research from the UK’s top youth and education organisations has revealed that 70 per cent of young people do not know the name of their local MP, and two in five (39 per cent) say they do not understand what politicians do.

The polling comes as political literacy programme ‘Our Generation. Our Vote’ gets underway in schools and youth groups across England and Wales, with 50,000 under 18-year-olds now registered to take part. The education project will teach children about politics and the democratic process before culminating in a mass election for children. Tens of thousands are expected to cast their vote for political candidates standing in their local constituencies, with results announced on Friday 28 June – one week ahead of the general election.

The polling by Opinium of eight to 17-year-olds was commissioned by the ‘Our Generation. Our Vote’ coalition, which includes Save the Children, National Citizen Service, Girlguiding, Young Citizens and The Politics Project. Data from the coalition previously revealed that only nine per cent of eight to 17-year-olds feel politicians care about the needs of all people equally, with working age adults being seen as the priority demographic.

‘Our Generation. Our Vote’ seeks to provide a political education to young people through credible, unbiased, curriculum-linked resources in participating schools and youth settings, with a focus on reaching those from marginalised communities. The resulting election for children aims to carve out an important space for young voices ahead of the general election.

Farida, 16, a RECLAIM activist from Salford, Manchester said: “Our political culture remains largely inaccessible to young people, especially those from marginalised backgrounds. In today’s political landscape, the widening class gap is exacerbating the disenfranchisement of working-class youth.

“It is imperative to confront this glaring disparity head-on, ensuring that every young person, regardless of their socioeconomic status, has the essential tools and knowledge to challenge and reshape our county’s political future. Political leaders must prioritise accessible political education to disrupt the ingrained cycle where voter awareness remains a luxury of the privileged few.

“There are millions of young people across the country desperate for representation, for influence and for change. 20 years from now, someone like me, a young black female from a working-class background, who is a proud Muslim, must not be an exception in politics, but as an accurate representation of the diverse voices building our society for the better.”

Obed, 15, a member of Newham Youth Empowerment Service in London said: “It feels like MPs don’t care or keep in mind young people when they are making decisions, it doesn’t feel like we are their priority. There is a real lack of diversity with politicians, specifically people of colour in politics. That can make you feel like you’re not included, and you don’t have inspirational leaders to aspire to when you watch them on the news.”

Lydia, 17, a Girlguiding Advocate from Dudley said: “Young people have started to feel apathetic towards politics because they don’t feel seen and represented by politicians, this needs to change, and young people need to be supported and empowered by having their voices heard!”

Meg Briody, Head of Child and Youth Participation at Save the Children UK said: “With three weeks to go until the general election, now is a crucial time for children’s voices to be heard. The results of our research reveal how young people currently feel overlooked by politicians. The polling shows us the need for political literacy projects like ‘Our Generation. Our Vote’ to engage young people in democracy and our political processes.

“We’ve teamed up with some of the UK’s leading youth organisations to create an opportunity to platform young people’s views, particularly from young people that have felt unrepresented in political spaces. We look forward to the results on Friday 28 June.”

In elections for the Scottish Parliament and the Welsh Senedd, the voting age is 16.

* More information on ‘Our Generation. Our Vote’ here.

* Source: Save the Children