Young peoples’ voices have the potential to enrich policymaking at all levels. It’s time that every politician – from parish councillors through to the Prime Minister – commit to acting upon what they have to say, and work in partnership with young people to improve democracy in the UK.

In October 2021, 10 young people aged 13-18 from across Yorkshire and the Humber came together to explore their views on democracy.

We found that what they most wanted to talk to us about were the issues that are important to them – the climate crisis, education, mental health services, housing – how action on these policy areas can make life better for young people, and that their engagement in democracy would increase if they saw more action on these issues.

Together, these young people discussed their hopes for the future and the policies they believe could increase young people’s participation in democracy, in their communities, the North and the UK. From young people delivering projects for mayoral combined authorities, to regular school visits for councillors and MPs, their ideas embodied a key message: they want to be more involved.

The young people’s ideas were then presented and discussed at a virtual roundtable in November attended by MPs, councillors, charities, youth workers, our partners in this work from Sciences Po, and academics from universities including Goethe University Frankfurt, University of Edinburgh, University College London, and University of Texas at Austin.

This event focussed on engaging young people in elections and democracy. This included discussion on the opportunities and challenges of lower the voting age, and the risks of formally rewarding only certain types of civic participation within our education system.

Making democracy work for young people captures this group of young people’s ideas as faithfully as possible and is accompanied by some additional commentary on the conversations we had together.