2016 has left everybody quite confused. The world is changing rapidly and many feel powerless to influence its direction. But soon we’ll be living in a fresh new year and ready to tackle the problems that we couldn’t finish off for good on the first attempt. Set that alarm and tie up those running laces. There’s a big race ahead.
Sometimes it might seem like the people who represent you only represent themselves, and it’s easy to trick yourself into thinking that your voice doesn’t matter. But it does. You are important, you count, and, this year more than ever, you can help. You don’t have to set out to change the world. Just the little bit of it around you. Here’s how.
Resolution #1: Understand Your Issue
What frustrates you? Identify what you care about, and do all you can to learn more about it.
Do you think climate change is the greatest threat facing humanity? Then you need to see the new documentary from Leonardo DiCaprio. Exploring feminism for the first time? Then read the inspirational “Half the Sky: How to Change the World” by Nicholas D. Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn. Make notes on the important details, and get to grips with the context. Consume everything of value, open your mind, and work out what are the key barriers to progress. Netflix has never been more productive.
Resolution #2: Find Your Organisation
Whatever you believe in, the odds are that somebody else shares your view. And wherever there’s solidarity, there’s organisation. Mental health? Check out the wonderful work they do at Mind. The refugee crisis? Citizens UK helps find refugees a home in the UK, Help Refugees sends food and supplies to those most in need, and Action Aid specifically aims to help women and girls all over the world. ICS can help you volunteer overseas, whilst Save the Children brings young people out of poverty at home and abroad. Ask your friends, scour the internet. You probably won’t have to look far.
But the next bit is really important. You need to get active. Reach out and find out how you can help. Are they putting on an event soon that you can be a part of? Money works, but time is often the most useful currency you can donate. At Global Citizen, we need people just like you to take online actions and solve the world’s biggest challenges. The work you can do from your mobile phone, right now, can change everything.
Resolution #3 Get Involved in Student Politics
Student politics is where it starts. And you don’t need a cringy campaign video to get yourself off the ground. Look around you, and ask yourself what your university could do better. Reaching out to the local community, integration with minorities, tuition fees, wellbeing support… The opportunities to bring about positive change in higher education are overwhelming. Join student groups like Amnesty to meet like-minded people, have fun whilst helping out with a RAG (Raising & Giving) event to fundraise for a cause close to your heart, or get involved with the NUS to defend students’ rights. And if there’s nothing out there that represents your ideas, then start a local society for yourself. Your Student’s Guild will probably be able to help fund you to get started.
Resolution #4: Join a Political Party
Brexit and Trump have shaken up the world. Change is coming, and you’ll need to pick a side; not to alienate the other, but to ensure your point of view is heard. If you put the environment first, then the Green Party might resonate. If you want a second referendum on the European Union, then the Liberal Democrats might be for you. Then there’s always the traditional divide between Labour and the Conservatives. Political parties differ issue-by-issue, so pick your politics, talk about it, and campaign for whoever you decide to back. Apathy is not an option, especially if there’s a snap election called at some point next year.
Resolution #5: Protest #Offline
Social media is an important vehicle for piling pressure onto politicians. At Global Citizen, it’s a vital part of everything we do. But if you’re angry, your keyboard doesn’t have to take all the hits. Check to see if there’s any demonstrations happening where you live. Whether it’s supporting refugees in London, protesting arts cuts in Cardiff, or speaking out against austerity in Birmingham; no matter where you’re from, there will almost certainly be boots on the ground.
Recently, Islington Council shut down a London superclub called Fabric. But, with tremendous support across the city, the #SaveFabric campaign raised £330,328 to lobby the council to give them their license back. If it matters to you, it will matter to somebody else; get outside, and get campaigning. There will be a lot to shout about next year.
Resolution #6: Become a Global Citizen
Gender equality, education, climate change, food waste… You name it, we’ve probably campaigned on it. Our core mission is to end extreme poverty before 2030, but we need your help to do it. Become a Global Citizen today, and help us overcome the world’s biggest challenges in 2017.