Fighting the politics of fear: one man's mission to get you engaged
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“Everything is political” is the thought of Michael Sani, the business studies teacher-turned-social entrepreneur whose life aim is to get you engaged - and I’m not talking about putting a ring on your finger. In 2010, Sani co-founded Bite The Ballot, an organisation that helps marginalised communities and young people in the UK get engaged in politics. When Sani realised he’d never voted, he founded a lunchtime club at a school in Dartford, which brought students together to talk about the problems of political engagement. Since, it’s grown to become part of a movement of organisations that helped get 1.85 million people on the electoral role in nine days. In Sani’s words, “It was massive.” The man, who Obama described as “an agent for change”, is no doubt a trailblazer amongst young Brits. But his organisation - which collaborates with the likes of Tinder, Uber and Deliveroo, as well as Facebook and Twitter - isn’t just about voting. “Bite The Ballot’s primary focus is to make young and marginalised people play a key role in decisions that affect them. Voting is only one part of that,” Sani tells to me in a South East London accent. “If we all become political and begin to influence the things we want to see and the things we want to change, then in numbers we can begin to see change.” Bite The Ballot is about bringing politics to where people are. It’s about removing barriers and illustrating to people the link between the personal and political. As well as engagement, Bite The Ballot is about fighting the politics of hate and fear. “It’s about opportunity and about hope,” Sani says “Look at where we are now. We’ve got the rise of the far right, in France and Poland. In the UK, post-Brexit we’ve got bands of people picking holes in each other. The reality is the political climate caused this.”
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