A leader able to effect change

Name Liz Atkins
College College of Social Sciences and International Studies

Leading political engagement

Liz Atkins is a passionate first year Politics and International Relations student who has created and led the 'Political Engagement' Students as Change Agents project. Liz aims to improve students’ understanding of the British Political System, subsequently encouraging them to actively engage in politics, especially with the approaching General Election in May 2015. The project involved the creation of an online pamphlet, ‘The Basics of British Politics – Your Guide to the General Election’. The 18-24 demographic age group is notorious for its low voting participation and Liz aims to try and change this, helping to tackle a critical problem that she believes exists within education.

“One thing I’m really passionate about is young people’s participation in politics… I think the main issue is… it’s not taught in schools [and] unless your parents have an interest in politics, or unless you actively pursue an interest in politics, you can get to the age of nineteen or twenty and then not have any idea about how the British political system works, or know what an MP does, or what your vote actually counts towards.”

Impact in the local community and beyond

Liz is hopeful for a successful outcome of her project; “even if it’s to inspire one person, who wasn’t going to vote in the General Election, to go to the ballot box and take a vote this May...” The pamphlet has been able to reach a wider audience, beyond the university, through Liz’s use of social media. Particularly, she featured her work on her blog, which has been seen in over 20 different counties.

“Hopefully, my project has made some impact in the immediate community… [by encouraging] people to change their views on politics and get involved, because I think young people, particularly, take for granted the fact that they have a vote… Hopefully my project has helped them have that understanding so they think, ‘actually, politics is something that’s relevant to me as well’.”

Students leading change

"... it's really important for students to be able to lead change because we're... the leaders of the future”