5.8 Raising political awareness among young people
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LAST MODIFIED ON: 14/10/2020
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Information providers / counselling structures
The National Assembly for Wales provides both an education service and a youth engagement service. Young people can visit the National Assembly building for tours, attend educational workshops about the Assembly in a dedicated youth chamber or in their local communities, or become involved in all aspects of Assembly business via Committees.
The National Assembly for Wales runs Outreach programmes in schools, colleges and universities, with free presentations and workshops. These include:
- interactive presentations for 7-18 year olds
- group work activities and the chance to debate recent topics discussed by Assembly Members
- consultations where young people are given the chance to feed back to the Assembly on issues that affect them
- teacher training
- workshops tailored to students in particular schools.
The National Assembly for Wales also runs a dedicated website for young people on politics and democracy called 'Your Assembly’. As well as the website, there is access through several social media channels. The website includes learning resources for 11 to 14 year olds and, 14 to 18 year olds.
The Electoral Commission is the official regulator of elections for the UK. Some of its campaigns, such as promoting eligibility to register to vote, are aimed mainly at young people.
Youth-targeted information campaigns about democratic rights and democratic values
The Electoral Commission, through its office in Wales, ran a general public awareness campaign in advance of the National Assembly for Wales election in May 2016. It had identified that young people and home movers would be most affected by the transition to Individual Electoral Registration (replacing registration by head of household). As the transition period was to end in December 2015, the awareness campaign was expanded to include a partnership with a television channel to produce an advert featuring some of the cast members from a popular TV show aimed at a young audience, supported by public relations and social media activities. The Electoral Commission worked with other partners to reach young people, including the National Union of Students (NUS) Wales, Youth Cymru and Bite the Ballot. The next National Assembly election is in May 2021.
UK Parliament Week has been developed by the Houses of Parliament as part of its Outreach and Engagement Service. It is a programme of events and activities and an online conversation to connect people with the UK Parliament. Although the programme is not specifically targeted at young people, there is a dedicated section on the website providing ideas for schools and youth organisations to get involved in running or attending events.
Moreover, the 'Parliament Explained' podcast, produced by the UK Parliament, is a series of six episodes explaining what Parliament is, how it scrutinises the work of the government and how people can get involved with its work. Note, however, that the podcast is not specifically aimed at young people.
In the run up to the UK general election in May 2017, young voters aged between 18 to 24 were able to book a free place on tours of the Houses of Parliament in Westminster. The move aimed to engage young voters with the democratic process and encourage them to register and vote.
Promoting the intercultural dialogue among young people
The Welsh Government produced guidance in 2018 to support schools and their partners to develop approaches that promote and maintain community cohesion. The guidance states:
In line with the revised guidance for schools in Wales (September 2015), schools in Wales directly support their local communities by providing learners with strong and positive messages to encourage mutual understanding, tolerance and respect. Schools create safe learning environments so that learners can develop understanding, awareness and resilience. Learners are free to form and embrace their own identity and beliefs, and also be able to live and learn safe from threat, risk and harm.
Promoting transparent and youth-tailored public communication
The UK Government operates within the general context of the Open Government Partnership, of which, in 2011, it was a founding member. This is a multilateral initiative that aims to secure concrete commitments from governments to promote transparency, empower citizens, fight corruption, and harness new technologies to strengthen governance.
The Welsh Government contributed to the UK Open Government National Action Plan 2019-2021, stating its commitments to achieving open government. It sets out 8 commitments in line with the Open Government Partnership values of access to information, civic participation, public accountability, and technology and innovation. The fourth NAP was developed in dialogue with the UK Open Government Network (OGN), a coalition of active citizens and civil society organisations committed to making government and other powerful institutions work better for people through enhanced transparency, participation and accountability. The National Assembly for Wales’ Children and Young People Engagement Charter states that ‘Young people in Wales can expect Assembly Members and the National Assembly to communicate in a way that is clear and easily understood.’
Local authorities and other organisations working with children and young people are expected to comply with the Welsh Government’s participation standards for children and young people. It states:
- You have the right to information that is easy to understand and allows you to make an informed decision.
- We will provide information that is good quality, clear and accessible.
The Well-being Act
See ‘Young People’s Participation in Policy-Making’ for transparency in decision-making.