Democracy surrounds us, it’s what forms our civilization. A democracy gives the people the power to make change, to influence and affect massive decisions that our government takes. This shares the power of authority between all of us, and it is important that young people are aware of the influence they hold if they use this power wisely.

According to the Financial Times, only 60% of the youth population (aged 18-24) voted in the EU referendum. Whilst this is the highest turnout in 25 years, it is still a massive disappointment as if the remaining 40% had voted, it could have changed the political landscape by a landslide.

However, whilst voting turnouts have increased, there are a number of other ways in which the youth have been getting involved in society. For instance, volunteering at local charity shops, primary schools or care homes has had a huge impact on society. An outstanding example of young people getting involved with their community and spending time volunteering to make a change or to better other people’s lives is the experience of a young individual: Anna. Anna took part in the European Voluntary Service (EVS). As part of her experience, Anna spent time in South East Wales, where she befriended older people and people with disabilities. The impact that Anna had would have been tremendous, as she helped to make people who previously may have been alone, feel a part of society. This has also benefitted Anna as “The 10 months with Volunteering Matters in the UK gave me time to get to know myself better and to decide what to study. I now study law in Vienna… I learned more practical skills during my EVS placement than during the whole previous eight years at school – I am serious! I can see how useful those skills are for now for the university.” This is only one experience, there are countless examples of young people volunteering, allowing them to be active in their community.

Another fantastic way in which young people can get involved with society and express their political views and possibly present these views at the London Youth Conference is by taking part in an essay competition. The IARS International Institute is holding an essay competition called “Democracy and Me” in order to celebrate the commencement of European Youth Week.

The competition is targeted at young people, allowing them to answer the following: What is the biggest challenge facing young people in Europe in 2019? What steps can young people take to proactively resolve these on both a community and national level?” There are prizes available for the most inspiring essays. For more information visit: http://iars.org.uk/content/european-youth-week-essay-competition-–-share-your-thoughts-win-prize

Written by our work experience students Mandeep Sehdev and Vallika Patel