Festival of Debate


Unbothered. Uninterested. Disengaged. These are just a few examples of stereotypes about young people in politics that our Young Advisors are ready to destroy at the Festival of Debate 2023.

Sheffield Futures’ Young Advisors (YAs) have been busy curating a panel of politicians, professionals and activists as part of this year’s festival line-up. The panel debate, ‘Rage Against the Machine: Young People & Political Power’ will take place on the infamous stage at The Leadmill on Tuesday 25th April. The panellists will be exploring power as a young person within the current political climate. Drawing on different perspectives, the debate will consider the intricacies of our political system and what it means to be of voting age in 2023.

The panel – consisting of Danielle Spencer (South Yorkshire Police), Zac Larkham (Student, Activist, Journalist), Django Perks (Sheffield Youth Cabinet), and Cllr Maleiki Haybe (Dep. Chair of Central LAC and Green Party Councillor for Broomhill and Sharrow Vale) – will be tackling questions surrounding voting apathy, the new protest bills, and how young people can remain optimistic and empowered.

“I feel that it’s important to be a part of this debate because it is important for every young person’s voices to be heard. Being heard and seen is a democratic right that no government should and can take away from their people. We will fight to be seen and heard and nothing can stop us.” – Panellist Django Perks.

The discussion will extend out to the audience through Q&As, giving everyone in the room the opportunity to get involved and air their opinions.

This conversation couldn’t be more timely, with local elections right around the corner on 4th May. The introduction of voter ID has raised questions of intentional youth disenfranchisement, with many of the forms of ID geared towards older people, such as the Older Person’s Bus Pass, being accepted while the youth equivalent is excluded. As Labour MP for Sheffield South East, Clive Betts, recently asked in the House, “What has the government got against young people?”.

But it’s not just the local elections that have got young people talking. Young Advisor and Sheffield Futures Trustee Kate Hardy (21) explained the inspiration behind the debate topic:

“We were discussing what we felt passionate about between us at the moment and there was a general buzz in the room of feeling anger towards the current poltical climate and how we felt restricted from making effective change, despite the fact it was our futures that were at play. We wanted to find a way to channel this shared frustration into something productive in our local area.”

Kate and her fellow YAs would like to see young people be actively encouraged to get involved in politics. This event is a way of making them feel seen and heard by those in power.

Tickets for ‘Rage Against the Machine: Young People & Political Power’ are free and available to book now on the Festival of Debate website. For ages 14+ only.

Sheffield Futures is a charity supporting young people in Sheffield to feel well, have a voice and get into the training, education or work that’s right for them. You can find out more about the work we do by following us on socials @SheffFutures | ig: SheffieldFutures.

Please send any media enquiries to Matt Andrews (Business Development Officer, Sheffield Futures) [email protected] | 07786933556[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]