Empowering young people to vote

Capture authentic voices

Journalist and filmmaker, Billie JD Porter, travelled the country to speak to young people from diverse backgrounds about the big issues and their engagement with the political process. Capturing the conversations in Use Your Voice, a short film (see below), the overwhelming response was that not only did young people have a view, they had questions, concerns, ideas and confusions. They also wanted to find answers.

Film music credits:

Wolf Alice
Jerome Watson

Empower and educate

ThinkNation interrogated the main issues and questions young people asked and explored in the documentary, and set out to help answer them. Crucially, the questions young people were asking weren’t insignificant: they were fundamental to the understanding of the democratic process and tackling political disenfranchisement of the younger generation.

These questions included:

  • What is a General Election?
  • What is a ‘government’?
  • What are Members of Parliament?

The outcome? Working with PhD candidates in Politics at the University of Kent, and journalist Sophie Wilkinson, we created a politically neutral online ‘toolkit‘ that helped educate and inform young people about democracy, voting – and wider political structures and terms.

Encourage debate – in the real world

Bringing together young people from the documentary live on stage with Summit host Billie, we held a Use Your Voice event mixed with the screening of the documentary, talks and audience discussions with 16 thought leaders from across politics, journalism, digital and creative industries. The event addressed the state of political engagement with young people across the UK, and saw the launch of the toolkit – and ambitious #useyourvoice digital campaign…

Ignite the touchpaper

#useyourvoice digital campaign ran alongside the event. Huge designers such as Simone Rocha, Kim Jones and Shrimps created graphic assets for a list of over 500 of the biggest British names in fashion, art, music and film to share on social media, both alerting young people of the deadline to register to vote, and voting day itself.

The #useyourvoice digital campaign was shared by some huge global influencers, including:

  • Cara Delevinge: 41m Instagram followers
  • Emma Watson: 28m Twitter followers
  • Nick Grimshaw: 2.3m Twitter followers
  • Florence Welch: 1m Twitter followers


  • 100m+ engagements on social
  • #useyourvoice trended on twitter.com
  • 218k young people registered to vote during campaign
  • Approx 54% of all 18-24 year olds voted on June 8, 2017*
    *source: Ipsos MORI

“When I think of politics, I just think of rich white men trying to take your money”

Documentaries | | 9:56

“Register to vote, but there’s a whole load of other stuff we can do as well”

Discussions | | 2:58

Who took part?


Abi Wilkinson

Freelance journalist, The Guardian



Areeq Chowdhury

Chief Executive, WebRoots Democracy



Isaiah Hall

Poet and rapper


Leah Cowen

Journalist and playwright



Billie JD Porter

Writer, filmmaker and TV presenter



Hannah Clare

Co-chair of the Young Green Party



Kenny Imafidon

Bite the Ballot, Political commentator, social entrepreneur and activist



Lord Jim Knight

Chief Education Adviser at TES Global Ltd, a member of the House of Lords and a visiting Professor at the Knowledge Lab of the UCL Institute of Education.