“For the first time in my adult life I’m thinking about not voting”: disillusionment in the lead up to the UK General Election

In anticipation of the UK's General Election, our Spokesperson Network shares their concerns about voter turnout and political apathy within their communities. Read their insights on the disillusionment, challenges, and potential paths forward for grassroots influence and positive change.

In the anticipation of tomorrow’s General Election in the UK, members of Sounddelivery Media’s Spokesperson Network share a sense of disillusionment, fear and uncertainty about the political future and what the new government will mean for their communities.

Their most urgent concern is a low voting turnout: that many of their community have not registered to vote, or if they have, will not go out to vote. According to our Spokespeople, such political apathy results from a lack of trust in politicians, and the misalignment between their proposals and what the communities actually need and want.

“We really want to encourage young people to vote” but “it’s really difficult to hear from your community that they don’t trust what anybody’s gonna do…it’s really sad”.

Siobhan Down, Founder and CEO of Yellow Brick Road Projects

Echoing Siobhan, Palma Black Founder of Soul Purpose 360, a Black women’s empowerment organisation, fears that her community members will cast a “protest vote”, which risks bringing more chaos than resolution: it might be a “repeat of what happened at Brexit”, which “won’t be good for anybody”.

Another reason why the voting sentiment appears so weak is the disconnection between the candidates’ objectives and the needs of UK communities. Sharon McPherson, Co-Founder of Families in Harmony, notes that due to the decreasing funding for social care, the current candidates do not bring the prospect of positive change for her community of kinship carers. However, she is committed to using her vote.

“I have been social listening and watching politics live, along with the debates, and I’m more persuaded now to vote with the party that best aligns to my values.” 

Sharon McPherson, Co-Founder of Families in Harmony

Some members of the Spokesperson network are themselves unsure which direction they will choose at the polling station tomorrow. While acknowledging the historical significance of women’s suffrage, and the power of voting in general, Debs Teale, Mental Health Advocate, Consultant and Facilitator, confesses: “for the first time in my adult life I’m thinking about not voting”.

“For the first time in my adult life I’m thinking about not voting.”

Debs Teale, Mental Health Advocate, Consultant and Facilitator

While many grapple with who to vote for, or whether to vote at all, it is important to consider the risks of abstaining from the election. Siobhan emphasises that not voting means that people and their concerns will not be heard by decision makers, limiting the ability of grassroots to influence policy to their own advantage.

“People don’t get heard because they are not reaching the right people with the right messaging,” she says.

There is no reason to doubt that the popular sentiment regarding the election casts a bleak shadow. However, they know that it is vital to look forward and find solutions to work with their communities and politicians and policy makers to enable positive changes, however small they might be.

According to Alan Stuart, Founder of The Calzy Foundation, a more reassuring and effective politics should focus on long-term, collaborative projects between parties that last regardless of the election cycle.

“There are certain aspects of how we run as a society that should not be political footballs, they should be cross-party, expert-driven models and policies that last for a distinct period of time – education, National Health Service, possibly defence”

Alan Stuart, Founder of The Calzy Foundation

This way, suggests Alan, meaningful policies have a chance to be implemented and have a lasting effect, instead of being overshadowed by punchy campaign slogans which tend to wilt in time for the election results day.

Looking beyond July 4th, our network is already exploring strategies to work with their future MPs so that their communities’ voices are heard and incorporated into policies and decisions. Maintaining online visibility and advocating for relevant, positive and systemic change rooted in lived-experience remains as crucial as ever in the current climate.

To our next government, it is clear that there is great work to be done to restore people’s trust in politics and encourage active participation in political life during the election period and beyond. The first step in achieving this goal ought to be listening to the voices of community leaders and delivering the transformation which will serve and empower these communities. Our Spokesperson Network needs to be at the forefront of these conversations. 

About Sounddelivery Media

Sounddelivery Media is a charity with a vision of a more equitable society where people with lived experience are part of creating social change. We work to help get new voices in the media and in the wider public conversation.  We connect  journalists and communities with untold stories. We work to address representation and diversity of voice in the media, finding platforms for our networks and building long term trusted relationships with journalists. We tackle the barriers that prevent these experts from engaging with the media.

Our Spokesperson Network programme is a key part of our work. Since 2019, we have been running an annual training programme for grassroots leaders looking to become visible public speakers. We work alongside people with direct experience of social injustice and inequality to advocate for themselves and their communities publicly by providing training, support and mentoring, media meet ups and media opportunities.

Meet our Network:  

Find out more about the organisations mentioned above:

Yellow Brick Road Projects: Website and X 

Soul Purpose 360: Website and LinkedIn

The Calzy Foundation: Website and X

Families in Harmony: Website and X

The Debs Effect: Website and X

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