It’s time to speak up this week as its European Local Democracy Week.

Running from the 12th-15th, European Local Democracy Week (ELDW for short) is an annual European event where local authorities from all the 47 member states of the Council of Europe organise public events to meet and engage with their citizens on issues of current interest. The aim is to promote and foster democratic participation at local level. This year’s theme is ‘Living together in multicultural societies: respect, dialogue, interaction’, with the aim of stressing the importance of local democracy as a route to building a united and democratic Europe.

ELDW is hugely important because 18-24 year olds in the UK are the least likely age group to vote in an election, with only 56% of people aged under 24 eligible to vote. ELDW offers a fantastic opportunity to:

  •  Inspire and encourage more young people to become engaged and involved in local democracy
  •  Improve their understanding of democracy and how it fits in with society
  • Empower young people to show that their voice and opinions really do matter

In autumn 2014, we developed (with the help and funding from the Cabinet Office) the Youth Count! Toolkit which offers training material and resources to help encourage young people to think for themselves, to question and challenge each other, and to develop confidence in expressing their own opinions. It also introduces them to how things work in a democratic system, and asks young people what matters to them so that they can ‘join their own dots’. They are encouraged to explore how they want to engage with democracy and to see themselves as active citizens who can make a contribution to democratic society through voting and other means.

The Youth Count! Toolkit is full of creative, imaginative and meaningful activities (15 hours’ worth in-fact!) to engage young people in democracy, and is a perfect resource to help plan activities in and around ELDW. Our democracy project has engaged over 7,800 young people to date – and if you are interested then you are able to sign up to our 60 minute online training here.

If you require any further information on our Youth Count! Toolkit or the democracy project then please contact Sarah Parkes at sarah.parkes@ukyouth.org.

Author: UK Youth

UK Youth is the largest national body for the youth sector, who via our member networks and partners, deliver a wide range of informal educational opportunities for young people aged 9-25 years, living in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

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