I have a voice (IHAV) is addressing two inter-linked social issues. The first is lower levels of engagement with democratic processes amongst specific segments of the population, which in turn creates the second social issue – that these same people are also under-represented within the thousands of employment opportunities in policymaking. The fact that these voices are missing at a democratic, but also a professional level, means that their perspectives are missing from public policy and political decisions that directly impact their lives. We have seen throughout the Pandemic just how much political decisions impact each and every aspect of our lives and how important it is that we understand the implications of political decisions for different segments of the population so that inequalities are not exacerbated.
I am from a working-class family and at my school we did not have any formal citizenship or political education, and so I left school with no knowledge or interest in politics. This changed in my mid-20s and I found myself entering a world where I was in the minority and a world that significantly lacks diversity. In my view leading to divisive rhetoric as we saw with Brexit and exacerbating inequalities for minority groups.
We've been working with young people from disadvantaged and under-represented communities to equip them with the skills and confidence to effectively advocate on the issues that impact them and their communities.
Your donations will enable us to employ 5 young people from these same communities for 6 months. This puts them at the heart of capacity building among their peers and will allow us to reach hundreds more young people across the country. We are unable to meet the current demand and are looking for support to create the necessary structures to support these young people. Separately we're working hard to make this a self-sustaining part of our business model so that your donations have an ongoing impact for years to come.
The timing of your help is crucial as the COVID-19 crisis still poses considerable risks for young people, especially vulnerable youth, in relation to their education, employment, mental health and disposable income. For example, unemployment data by the Office for National Statistics showed that under-25s make up two thirds of the 700,000 job losses since the start of the pandemic. In addition, younger generations will shoulder much of the long-term economic and social consequences of the crisis, yet their well-being may be superseded by short-term economic and equity considerations. To avoid exacerbating intergenerational inequalities young people must have a voice in the recovery to ensure it is inclusive, fair and leaves no one behind.
Our ultimate goal is to amplify missing voices – all of our Youth Ambassadors go or went to a State school; 95% are female; 35% are from an ethnic minority; 20% identify as LGBTQ+ and 15% have a disability. Your support will help them raise their voices, which too often go unheard by decision-makers.