Many young people feel they have no influence over the world around them, but a band of activists have taken matters into their own hands. Catherine Priestley reports

Ryan Chatt is a young man on a mission.

A mission to get his peers engaged in politics, be it with a little p or a big P.

As co-founder and PR manager to new website the 16-year-old is keen to spread the word about the online community which aims to inspire youngsters into politics.

And he must be doing a decent job as since it was founded last June, with young Irishman Alex Firth, 3,100 members have registered and it has had more than 130,000 posts.

The young people behind the website want to encourage healthy debate and in turn hope to influence mainstream politics.

Ryan, from Spennymoor, County Durham, has emailed every MP in the country and dozens of his local councillors so they know about the website and, he hopes, pick up on the issues and views that its members care about.

“I want people to know that young people are interested, most care about the world around them.

“Since getting involved in the website, I have been amazed at how many are interested and get involved in our debates, they have intelligent thoughts to share,” he says.

"We want schools, colleges, youth groups and even political parties to know who we are, we really want this to be national."

He also raises funds for the website, updates its homepage and is one of the moderators who ensures the debates, however lively, do not get out of hand with abusive or offensive comments.

The website and Ryan's campaign reflects a power surge from young people.

Many 16 and 17-year-olds allowed to vote in September's Scottish Referendum proved they want their say.

And when The House of Commons was taken over by The National Youth Parliament last November they maturely debated issues from mental health services to exam resits and whether the voting age should be lowered to 16, which could be key for politicians like Labour leader Ed Miliband, who want to win the support of youth voters.

The website is far from the first toe Ryan has dipped into the political pond.

He is currently the youth mayor of his home town.

There the youth council provides a platform for young voices and has its own budget so it can award grants to local projects aimed at their generation.

A student at Whitworth Park School and Sixth Form College, Ryan was one of the most vocal pupils who lobbied staff to overturn a uniform rule so they could wear charity brooches.

He followed his parents into the Labour party and attended the party’s conference in Manchester in September but his agenda is not to bring young people round to his way of thinking but to get them engaged in the political process, whatever their leaning. He also travelled to Westminster before Christmas to give his views on voter engagement to a parliamentary select committee.

“At the moment a lot of people of voting age don’t vote, there is probably only a small minority who seek out politics in the media and a lot who do vote probably don’t look at the policies and work of a particular party before making a decision.

“That seems a shame.

"As a teen, I strongly believe that young people should get involved in politics, simply because we are the future and need to make some pretty important decisions very soon.

The issue Ryan probably cares most about is promoting equality in all walks of life.

“The line between poor and rich, gay rights, employment rights, immigration and education all matter to me, I think young people should have more say on these issues.

“Young people have views, they need a voice.”

Ryan is passionate about education and wishes all young people had the same opportunities and ‘a decent start in life’ and is a big believer in the NHS.

The busy teen also throws himself into voluntary work- close to home like helping to run activities at St David’s Youth Club, in Tudhoe, to further afield with a charity expedition overseas planned for next year.

He hopes to travel with schoolmates to Borneo to work on conservation, community and education projects while having the adventure of a lifetime.

He said: “I’d like to call myself a busy person, but when I’m not managing public relations and debating on, I’ll be either volunteering, running or acting with Spennymoor Stage and Song.

“I don’t know what I want to do for a career, could be anything from acting to politics.”