The organisers of the annual Festival of Debate believe the event is ‘critical’ for young people to get introduced to politics regardless of their background.
The festival, which has been running since April 15 across Sheffield and will continue until this coming Wednesday, has exposed young people of all backgrounds to some of today’s most important political debates, including issues surrounding citizenship, inequality, and climate.
Joe Kriss, the festival’s programmer, hopes the event will help the attendees ‘throw off any constraints to imagining our city’ and understand the importance of thinking in different ways about complicated and complex issues.
He said: “The Festival of Debate is critical for young people as, of course, the decisions that are being made today will affect the generations of the future more than they will the politicians who are making them.”
As political disengagement grows among younger generations, with the percentage of young people who are registered to vote falling from 45 per cent in 2015 to 25 per cent in 2018, the organisers are passionate about the importance of the festival.
Kate Hardy, a young advisor, and Sheffield Futures Trustee, a charity working with young people and helping in organising the event, trusts the diverse program will teach younger people to get their voices heard in an increasingly polarised environment.
She said: “We were discussing what we felt passionate about between us at the moment and there was a general buzz in the room of feeling anger towards the current political climate.”
With a program consisting of artists, philosophers, journalists, and scientists, the festival’s two last days will continue to deliver the message of the need for political participation.
Django Perks, a member of Sheffield’s Youth Cabinet and one of the panellists, said: “I feel that it’s important to be a part of this debate because it is important for every young person’s voice to be heard.
“Being heard and seen is a democratic right that no government should and can take away from their people.”