THE BLOG
09/02/2015 03:20 GMT | Updated 10/04/2015 06:59 BST

Why We're Giving Young People the Voice They Deserve


"We are so often left out of the political conversation."

The passing remark made to me during an interview has left a lasting impression. It made me ask why. Why are young people left out of the conversation - not just political, but social, economic and cultural discussions - when it is they who will have their lives defined by such talk?

So many are ready to accept today's youths are apathetic and disinterested - a lazy stereotype so overused it has become a cliche itself - they fail to stop and think about the impact this has on the young people themselves.

I recently visited Manchester to meet the brilliant Reclaim Project - a charity working with 12- to 14-year-olds to tackle inequality in leadership. During a session, in which the young people discussed the issues which mattered to them, one teenager told me: "I wouldn't be here if politicians listened to us."

Every young people in the room was passionate about their community, whether it be finding ways to raise awareness about sexual harassment, combatting bullying, tackling the lack of youth social spaces, campaigning to get better bus fares or more adequate street lighting at night. They all have passion, and drive.

But when I asked them how many were interested in politics, it was a different story. "Politics is dead", "politics is boring", "politics is full of white, middle-aged men in suits", were just a few of the reactions.

It's evident young people don't make the link between politics and social change. Either they are unaware, or as Owen Jones recently put it, they've lost hope. They no longer feel if they speak up they'll be heard, they no longer think if they vote it will make a difference.

It is exactly this reason; the lack of listening, of conversation and of engagement, that we are launching a new Young Voices section, and with it, our Young Voters series.

The new section will give young people a platform to have their voices heard. We're not afraid of taking politicians and public figures to task over what youths want, we're not afraid of providing young people with a speakerphone so they can shout about their grievances.

But we're not just here to tackle injustice and inequality. We're also here to celebrate and shout out about the inspirational youths who are changing Britain for the better, including profiling a young entrepreneur every week. We're here to share the good news as well as the bad.

We've featured feminist societies tackling lad culture and sexism on their campus, Muslim youths fighting to be heard above the Islamophobic discourse, mental health sufferers trying to break taboos and LGBT students campaigning for better services and support.

We're also giving youths a helping hand. Research published last year showed, for 45% of young people, the most important issue to them is employment. That's why we developed Skills Space - a careers advice hub brimming with tips and tricks of the trade from employers, entrepreneurs and people who've been there done that.

Young people do have a voice - and it's time we started listening because boy, are they desperate to be heard.

Do you have a conversation you'd like to start? Then email us at ukstudenteds@huffingtonpost.com or catch us on Twitter @HPYoungVoices

Register To Vote #Take Power