Bywell branch discussion meeting – Joseph White reports:
At the Bywell branch Labour party meeting on the 12th September, members undertook a political education discussion exercise centred on young Labour members in the constituency. The aim was to ascertain what can be done to encourage young people to join the party and to encourage exisiting members to become more actively involved in campaigns and attend their local branch meetings. The meeting split into two groups, one lead by Holly (Youth Officer) and the other lead by myself (assistant Youth Officer). Our group came up with a wide range of methods to try and engage more young activists, these are as follows:-
It was agreed that social media is one of the most effective methods to directly target young members. This can be done by posting examples of current, youth led campaigns and posting details of events that may interest young people in the Hexham area.
Another mechanism that was identified was the use of email. For legal reasons only some members of the BLP have access to new member’s email addresses. It was subsequently suggested that if myself or Holly were to write a generalised message to young members inviting them to youth meetings, campaigns, or social events, this could be used to directly target young members in the constituency.
Once the procedure for emailing young members has been agreed, this tool can then be used to organise more youth social events. It was agreed that arranging more social meetings, at different venues and different times, would be a good and informal way of easing young members into becoming active party members.
In addition to social media and email, it was agreed that a specific section dedicated to the youth group could be created on the new CLP website. This might contain information about campaigns and importantly house a catalogue of alternative websites and Facebook groups to aid younger people’s transition into becoming an active member of the party.
It was unanimously agreed that younger members may be deterred from BLP and CLP meetings due to their densely bureaucratic nature. Therefore the group proposed that particularly branch meetings should become more discussion based and contain less procedure, which may be off putting to younger members. This could be done by further amending the branch meetings to contain more political education and discussion based activities.
Finally the group suggested that it would aid our efforts, if local schools such as QEHS and PCHS could be encouraged to hold an impartial political education day. This might consist of political representation from different political perspectives in order to help educate young people about the basics of politics. Stalls could provide information on how to get involved. It was suggested we contact links we have between the schools and the party to try and see what could be done to boost the acute lack of political education locally.