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Wed Jun 5| News Policy & Public Affairs Transforming Lives

#VoteToTransformLives – an includem election campaign

On the 22nd May 2024, the Prime Minister stood, drenched, in Downing Street, and as he battled against the 1997 anthem of change, took the nation by surprise and called the General Election for the 4th of July 2024.


Now, it could be argued that it isn’t really a surprise. I have lost count of the number of times social media has been abuzz with rumours of a date. From “it’s going to happen in May”, “no September”, “no October”, “no December” it got to the point where I think most of us uttered the phrase “just call it and get it over with”.

So now we have IT!

Two months ago, we launched our Transforming Lives campaign. A campaign that would take our policy and public affairs work from now to the Scottish Parliament elections in 2026. Our campaign highlights the fantastic work we do in communities across the country and amplifies the voices of some of Scotland’s most marginalised children, young people and families: the forgotten voices.

For the next month, our campaign is altered slightly to reflect the political landscape.

Today, we are excited to launch our #VotetoTransformLives campaign for the UK General Election.

We understand that as a Scottish charity, much of what we want to see changed rests within the powers of the Scottish Parliament but for those we support, they are impacted by decisions made in Westminster too. From decisions on welfare, the economy and the labour market, we want to promote ideas and policies that transform lives.

For those reading this and thinking why is a charity like includem getting involved in a general election? Can they do that? The answer is we can.

The Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator (OSCR) tells us that:

 “It cannot be the purpose of a charity to support a political party, but charities may campaign on political issues where it is consistent with their charitable purposes

“Scottish charities can campaign on political issues to advance their charitable purposes, including during election periods, as long as the requirements of charity law and, where necessary, electoral law are met.” (OSCR, 2024) 

Our mission is to provide the support children and young people need to make positive changes in their lives and inspire a more hopeful future for children, young people, their families and communities.

We envision a world where every child and young person is respected, valued and has the opportunity to actively participate in all aspects of life and society. The general election helps us and them do exactly that.

But the young people and families we work with face barriers we must be aware of:

The first challenge is to ensure that everyone who can, uses their vote. By putting a cross on your ballot, you are making a small step in our democratic right to create change. Here at includem, we are encouraging all our colleagues, young people aged 18 and above as well as their supporting networks to use their vote. We can’t tell them who to vote for and why, but we can make sure that they have the opportunity to use their vote.

And there is a particular reason for this.

The 2019 General Election, saw only 47% of 18–24-year-olds vote[1]. We must do whatever we can to ensure that everyone in this age bracket votes. They are the future generation who need to be key players in deciding what that future looks like.

The second challenge is significant– and could be a major barrier for those we support.

This General Election will be the first in Scotland that Voter ID is required to vote.

There has been much discourse about the introduction of Voter ID, especially for those living in poverty who cannot afford the luxury of the cost of a passport or access to other forms of ID. That is why we are highlighting to those we support so that they are aware of the free Voter Authority Certificate.

Using your vote is a significant step towards seeing the change you want enacted. We don’t want anyone waking up on the 5th July thinking “If only I had voted”.

Over the coming days, we will be contacting young people we support to encourage them to register to vote by the 18th June deadline, whether they choose to vote in person on polling day or by postal vote. If you have not registered then you can find out more here.

In just two short weeks, we’ve already seen policies being announced that could impact young people – without both their input and without their say.

Where is the respect for their right to be involved in the development of policies that can significantly impact their lives?

During the first weekend of the campaign, the prime minister announced that if his party were to continue in government, they would seek to re-establish National Service for all 18-year-olds in the country. This would see young people for one year either to take part in military service or volunteering opportunities in their communities.

We don’t know how this policy would impact devolution, or how devolution would impact the policy? How could it affect young people who are already in employment or in further education, or even those in the justice sector or care experienced.

We understand however that a Royal Commission would be set up to consider the scheme and would look to engage with this commission in the event of the conservatives continuing in government.

And it’s not just Conservative Party policies for young people that we have questions about.

The Labour Party at their last party conference announced that if elected, they would establish a new network of youth hubs that would support their aims to clamp down on anti-social behaviour.

But what would this look like? Can it be rolled out in Scotland where justice is devolved?

Includem has experience of working to reduce anti-social behaviour. From our involvement working in Glasgow tackling gangs, our early intervention and prevention teams and intensive support and were naturally curious to see how this progresses and look forward to engaging with Sir Keir Starmer and Yvette Cooper.

The Labour Party have also announced plans to give young people aged 16 and 17 the right to vote which we warmly welcome. It makes no sense that 16- and 17-year-olds can vote in both the Scottish Parliament and local elections but not in the Westminster election. There has also been research carried out that shows this age bracket – especially in the Scottish Parliament elections – has been more engaged than 18–24-year-olds[2].

Here in Scotland, the announcement of the general election has also impacted decisions happening in the Scottish Parliament. Just this last week, the new First Minister has had to push back key announcements such as the Programme for Government. He has pledged to make tackling child poverty a central pillar of his government. And we’re interested to see how he plans to do this.

Ensuring those we support are registered to vote, and engaging about key issues isn’t all we’re going to be doing.

#VoteToTransformLives highlights what we think voters should be aware of when casting their vote in what could be the most historic and impactful election for the next generation.

The following is just a taste of what we have planned:

  • An election special URSPACE.

Featuring advice on registering to vote and making sure they have the right identification or apply for a Voter Authority Certificate. We are also inviting all major parties in Scotland to tell those we support what they would do for them if they were to win – informing the young people and families supported by includem of the key issues for their consideration.

  • An open letter

Publishing an open letter to parties and their leaders to recognise the need to engage with those we support: forgotten voices. No voice in Scotland should ever go unheard.

In conjunction with our open letter, we are writing to candidates asking them to commit to listening to the forgotten voices and meet with includem within their first six months in office.

  • Highlighting the five key asks of our Transforming Lives campaign which calls for action from both the Scottish and UK government.


  • Continue to showcase very specific areas of our work.


  • Supporting our partner and membership organisations with any of their asks that align to what children, young people and families tell us they want to be changed.


  • And much, much more!


Regardless of the outcomes, this is an election that can transform the lives of the children, young people and families we support.

It is our duty to make sure their voices, voices that often feel forgotten, are heard.

And that’s exactly what we intend to do.

To find out more about our policy and public affairs work visit

We would love to hear from candidates and their parties on what they would do for Scotland’s children and young people. You can contact our team at






Martyn Walker,
Communications & Public Affairs Manager

Change a life today.
Our young people and families need your help today, more than ever.

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