Persuading Preston’s kids to vote – with a smile

Stephen Parkinson of Preston Council has made a video of emojis to encourage young people to vote
Stephen Parkinson of Preston Council has made a video of emojis to encourage young people to vote
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With millions of people failing to vote in the last election, experts have come up with a novel way to engage with youngsters.

In an ever-changing digital world, leaders have ditched the leaflets and flyers, and instead reached for the emojis.

With winks, smilies and text speak, a new video has been created to urge young people to have their say.

The man behind the video, Stephen Parkinson, said he was inspired by his 19-year-old daughter.

Stephen, head of communications at Preston Council, said: “It’s not about politics, it’s about how decisions affect people collectively.

“People are turned off by politics and perhaps don’t engage and that’s the worst of all worlds because you can end up with people in power who you might not agree with.

People are turned off by politics and perhaps don’t engage and that’s the worst of all worlds because you can end up with people in power who you might not agree with.

Stephen Parkinson

“And if you abstain and refuse to vote, then it’s too late to complain. For me, there’s politics and there’s democracy.

“The decisions that are taken will affect us all. It’s not a perfect process but we don’t live in a perfect world and it’s the best we have.”

Stephen said he was motivated by his daughter, Lucy, to highlight the importance of voting for young people.

He said: “Like most 19-year-olds she has a busy life, she wants to do lots of things and voting isn’t really top of the list. She said to me ‘they’re all the same, my vote won’t matter, what’s the point’.

“But there is a lot of point in it because you can influence, you can have an effect, so it’s important you do because if you don’t, other people will have your say for you.”

He added: “If you wind the clock back 100 years, Lucy would have been part of the suffragette movement campaigning to get the vote.”

Stephen has created the video, based around a text message conversation, to explain the need to vote for people aged 18 to 24.

He said: “We need to reach those people in a different way that they relate to and that’s where the emojis come in.

“The emojis are a very simple way to understand things.

“I thought it was a perfect medium of naturally reaching people and saying you can have an influence and have a say.”

Visit www.preston.gov.uk/emoji.