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Nesta is an innovation foundation. For us, innovation means turning bold ideas into reality and changing lives for the better. We use our expertise, skills and funding in areas where there are big challenges facing society.

Report: Exploring Online Democratic Platforms for Young People to Effect Positive Change

Since late 2013, we’ve been supporting a collaborative project between Purpose and UpRising - Online Democratic Platforms for Young People - through our Destination Local programme. As the project comes to a conclusion, Purpose has produced a final report Exploring Online Democratic Platforms for Young People to Effect Change, which imparts key insights and recommendations for local decision makers, and other stakeholders, to help them engage with young people and increase youth participation in local issues.

Purpose has also had an objective to support young people in deploying digital tactics across a range of channels to make their voices heard within the local democratic ecosystem, and share and inspire other young people to tap into local resources to create social change.

Key findings include:

  • Young people see social impact primarily through the lens of their own experience
  • You must meet young people where they are; you can’t expect them to come to you
  • Striking the right tone is essential when communicating with young people
  • Engaging young people is not an impossible task - small investments, both online and offline, go a long way towards increasing participation
  • Leverage hyperlocal media to elevate youth voices - encourage local media partners to seek out stories from younger voices relevant to the local issue context

The two organisations have worked together with young people aged 16-24 in Birmingham who were engaged through UpRising’s youth networks and social platforms. They worked to identify low to medium-barrier opportunities, particularly through digital platforms, that help to mobilise this pivotal demographic.

The report has been developed with specific reference to the Raising Your Voice: Digital Story Telling to Create Change guide, which Purpose and UpRising produced in May 2014, as well as a series of social action training events that the organisations ran with local groups of young people. These led to the launch of a series of digital campaigns that the young people have delivered based on the specific issue-areas they want to influence. A handful of the campaigns were so successful that they have been showcased by several media outlets, including local radio, Sky News and Sky News’s emerging youth platform Stand Up Be Counted.

Hyperlocal media services have also played an important role in creating opportunities for engagement, and promoting and inspiring both young people and decision makers to collaborate, as well as being a conduit in holding decision makers accountable to their young constituents. 

Nesta is sharing the learnings from this project in anticipation that local decision makers and stakeholders across the UK will use the insights and recommendations in the report, and the other tools and resources created by Purpose and UpRising, to develop opportunities for young people to effect social action in their local area, ensuring a tangible impact in the offline world as well as online.


Watch the vlogs created by young leaders Jaspreet and Meg and by Uprising’s My Voice, My Vote programme coordinator, Craig Francourt. Both describe how the UpRising and Purpose training events and resources have helped

to empower them and other young people to effect change. 


Kathryn Geels

Kathryn Geels

Kathryn Geels

Programme Manager

Kathryn was the Programme Manager for Destination Local. The project aims for the UK to have the most advanced public understanding of hyperlocal media and its potential for market gro…

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