Young people are often viewed as a group of voters who, traditionally, aren’t our natural voters. This can lead to campaigns that exclude young people and, at worse, attack young people. But in many areas, young people can be crucial to winning, and finding the right campaigns for them can not just get them to vote for us but can even get us new activists and members!
The first thing to note is that young people can’t be treated as one homogenous group. What matters to a student in a metropolitan city may be completely different to a young couple in the suburbs or an apprentice in the countryside, so always make sure to talk to young people about what’s important to them before you run a campaign.
A great place to start with this would be your local Young Liberal branch where you can speak with your younger members about the problems they themselves may be facing and they can help you craft your policies. There are a large number of YL branches across Great Britain and you can find their details here:
If you don’t have a YL branch then surveying an area with lots of young people, either student halls if you have them or new build estates, is another great place to start. In one ward in Newcastle, the local team did a specific young people’s survey in an area that’s well known for the student and young graduate population. This showed the team that the most important issues to those voters were the environment, housing, and access to public transport. This then meant the team could tailor their content in Focus and other literature to these issues.
If you live in a ward that has student halls in, then getting your student vote on side is absolutely critical to winning. This is the case in a number of key Lib Dem areas and is something our team in Sheffield have put a lot of work into. This was achieved by doing a Student Specific Leaflet that focussed on issues that matter to young people, and the campaigns the Young Liberal University Society were campaigning on at their freshers fair.
This included a campaign the local party ran on landlord reviews, something a number of young people care deeply about as often the housing available to them is poorly maintained, of low quality and overpriced. By letting young people feel like they have a stake in their local area, they’re so much more likely to engage with you and your other campaigns, especially if you continue the feedback cycle and go back to them time and time again.
Below is a Student Leaflet from Sheffield. Click on the pictures to download a PDF copy.
It is also worth noting that there has never been a better time to go out and try and engage younger voters. The Conservative Party have always been seen as the party of the older generation, Labour have taken young people’s votes for granted and their recent shift to social conservatism has meant we have a golden opportunity to capitalise on this by getting our strong liberal message out there.
One of the other important ways to engage young people is to make sure you have young activists and campaigners on your team. As a young person myself, it’s a lot easier for me to go out and engage with young people when they can see they too can get involved. We’re really lucky to have some fantastic young councillors and campaigners across Great Britain and it’s true that where we elect young people, more will follow!
There really has never been a better time to go out and speak with young voters, find what matters to them, and run campaigns on these. Both ALDC and the Young Liberals provide a wealth of resources for you and are always happy to give advice and guidance if you’re feeling a bit stuck on your next steps.