When did you decide you wanted to get into youth politics?
I have had a passion for politics since I was 16. The idea of this subject being how societies are created and formed fascinated me. However, as I was growing up, I quickly realised that my friends and my generation as a whole were not interested in politics. They cared about single issues like human rights, green issues or police community relations, for instance, but did not see the link between those issues and politics. The issue is that if you want to change something, really change it, you need to eventually engage with the political system, otherwise nothing will ever change. This realisation made me believe in the urgent need for political education in schools and is the reason why I became involved in politics.
How did your company, Shout Out UK, start?
It started originally as a blog while I was at university. It was never originally meant to be a business. As I wrote, others started asking if they could contribute, and so our contributions (and our readership) grew with us launching our first event in Harrow back in late 2014. One of our writers, Patrick Ireland, then started getting more and more involved. Due to his background in film, we created our first film project, ‘Anonymous: A Million Men’, which launched our film side. This led to us getting our idea of a Youth Leaders’ Debate commissioned by Channel 4. This was the point at which I realised there was ‘something’ here. The Political Literacy course came later, being created at the back end of 2015.
It was always my dream to do a political course, but the possibility came up as a chance meeting at an event with an AQA learner provider who told me how I could set the course up! Its launch in 2016 created the four aspects of Shout Out UK that exist today.
What is your message?
Young people are often sidelined in mainstream politics and the media, not having a platform to voice their ideas, interests and frustrations. This, coupled with a lack of political literacy, ultimately breeds apathy.
We, Shout Out UK, are spearheading a nationwide movement to show that the voice of the next generation is powerful, important and relevant. Via our multimedia approach, we aim to give young people a platform to shout out and be heard, as well as the tools and information needed to be involved in politics.
How do you feel politicians should engage further with young people?
They need to simplify the way they communicate and engage with young people on their terms. The world is moving forward, young people are using the tech and language that will be the norm tomorrow. It’s no use (as a politician) sticking to the tech and language of the past, as it disconnects a generation and breeds resentment. Look at Obama and Trump, great examples of how two politicians have connected with the next generation brilliantly.
How can politics help young people?
Politics is in everything, it controls everything and if young people got involved, it would change their lives. There is a reason why councils and governments cut youth services first, yet save pensions, etc. Old people engage, young people don’t, so we pay the price.
What role can young people play in politics and why are they important?
Young people know the world of tomorrow and the advancement that is coming, plus are not burdened by the cynicism that naturally builds up as you get older. Young people can provide the optimism and enthusiasm that is natural to them, but missing in politics due to how elderly-heavy politics is at the minute in Britain.
You are currently campaigning to introduce political literacy in schools. What does this entail and why do you feel it is so important?
Currently, we assume that once we hit 18 years of age we suddenly become enlightened with all the political knowledge one needs to vote and engage. But, of course, this is not the case. It needs to be taught and understood in school as a compulsory subject. We hold English and Maths in very high regard as two of the most important subjects. However, the one subject that allows us to be who we want to be, gives us a voice and creates a society we wish to live in, we give no time to in schools.
I would propose a compulsory subject called Political Literacy that is added to the National Curriculum for high school level. It would aim to get more young people interested and engaged in politics by teaching them about the processes within politics, as well as public speaking and debating. To find space in the curriculum I would scrap RE, it is unnecessary and ridiculous to have so much time dedicated to religious teaching in school.
What are your aspirations for the future?
I would love to see Shout Out UK become a new player in the New Media industry, similar to Vice or BuzzFeed. Eventually, I’d like to go into mainstream politics.
Do you have any role models?
I have never thought about this… but if I had to pick one right now, it’d probably be Larry Page and Sergey Brin. They have nothing to do with politics, but just the mere fact that they managed to create something so massive (Google) out of nothing but their passion, for me is incredible.
What would you like to see from youth politics in the future?
More engagement with young people in politics. There should be no division; there is no youth politics and politics. It’s just politics, and we, as a generation, have a right and duty to be part of that conversation.
What advice would you give to young people?
Engage in politics, educate yourself and speak to others. The conversation (politics) is constantly going on around us, it’s shaping the society we are going to inherit. If we ignore it and pretend it’s not there, then all that will happen is the conversation will just carry on without us.
About Matteo Bergamini
Matteo Bergamini is a multi-award-winning entrepreneur and political literacy activist. He has a degree in Politics & History, as well as a Graduate Diploma in Law from Brunel University. He has worked on a number of projects, from the Channel 4 Youth Leaders’ Debate to the creation of a political literacy course accredited by the AQA. An avid promoter of political discourse and literacy among young people, he was invited to become a fellow of the Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce for his work in encouraging political education among young people.
This year, Shout Out UK launched their AQA-endorsed political literacy course to local schools in order to better educate young people in politics and encourage a long-standing interest and understanding in politics. The course covers British politics, international relations as well as employability.
If you would like more information on the course please visit: http://www.shoutoutuk.org/political-literacy-course/