Time to #TurnUp – Greenwich alumni help young people gain a voice

As the UK geared up for the 2017 General Election, two Greenwich alumni were at the forefront of efforts to engage young voters. Their campaigns, with others, may have played a key role in determining the final result.

Grime artist, Jme, and campaigner, Mete Coban, urged young people to exercise their democratic right to vote and have a say in shaping their future.

When the election was called, only half of the UK’s 7.4 million 18 to 24-year-olds were even registered to vote. What’s more, at the previous election in 2015 just 43 per cent of those registered actually voted. This is in stark contrast to the over 65s where the turnout was 78%.

Mete (pictured below) is Chief Executive of My Life My Say (MLMS), a non-partisan youth-led movement he founded with fellow Greenwich Politics student Shabaz Khan in 2013, whilst still at the university. Mete already brings considerable experience to the table, having become the youngest ever Councillor in Hackney at the age of just 21.

During the election campaign, MLMS and its partners organised a series of ‘Democracy Cafes’. Taking place in coffee shops all over the UK, with discussions and speakers from across the political spectrum, these events proved very effective in bringing young people together and stimulating debate.

Mete says: “Our aim is to engage young citizens in our democracy by creating a unique safe-space environment where politics can be fun and relatable to the issues that matter most.”

MLMS and Mete saw plenty of media coverage during the campaign, with appearances on Sky News, BBC Radio London and Kiss FM, plus mentions in the Observer and Evening Standard, among others. Their work was also praised by the likes of Gina Miller and Holly Branson.

Meanwhile, Jme (Pictured below), reached out to his huge 700,000+ following on twitter, encouraging them to vote and offering information on how to register. He also had a much-publicised discussion with Jeremy Corbyn, where he explained why so many of his peers don’t vote.

All the early post-election indications suggest that Mete, Jme and other campaigners have been extremely successful in persuading more young people to vote.

One source estimates that the turnout among 18- to 24-year-olds rose to 66.4 per cent, up by 23 per cent.

Whatever your take on the result of the election, this can only be a positive thing.