Meg Kneafsey is a returned International Citizen Service (ICS) volunteer with Raleigh International, a trustee for the charity, and a campaigner. Here she tells us about the non-partisan actions she took after the EU Referendum to make sure young people are heard in the Brexit negotiations…
On the 23rd June, the world was shocked at the unpredictable EU Referendum result. The last few months have been a whirlwind for politics; a new Prime Minister, a conflicted opposition, and still no real understanding of what the Brexit deal may look like.
Young people are often excluded from the political process for many reasons. Our lack of power and influence has led to many policies negatively affecting us the most. From the housing crisis to unpaid internships to rising tuition fees, it’s clear to see that some of the most unpopular policies with young people have still continued.
It is easy for young people to feel overwhelmed by the division and uncertainty generated by Brexit and lose focus of the most important issue moving forward: the negotiations. With assertions such as “Brexit means Brexit” not exactly revealing more information. During this time of political confusion, we cannot let our young people become even more distant from politics.
It is young people who will be most affected by the decision to leave the EU and we cannot let our future be decided for us.
To make sure our voices are heard, we have launched a nationwide campaign called ‘Undivided’ to listen to the demands of all young people, regardless of background, experience or political opinion. This is a platform for all young people to submit their Brexit demands. We will then take the top ten to the negotiating table.
We are a group of 30 young people from different backgrounds who came together in the wake of the EU Referendum. Between us, we voted Remain, Leave or didn’t vote at all (some of us are under 18!). But regardless of how we voted, we are connected by the desire to fight for young people’s interests in all Brexit negotiations and ensure positive change. This is a campaign led by young people for young people.
It’s not an easy task. Young people aren’t the only group confused about what Brexit actually means and how the policies will affect us. Indeed, part of our role will be empowering young people with knowledge about Brexit, allowing them to develop their own opinions on what they want from the negotiations.
I am one of the many young people working on this campaign. Having always been concerned with the way young people are left out of the political process, I have campaigned to get young people interested in politics and ensuring that they use their vote. I see this as not only a way for young people to be included in the Brexit negotiations but to demonstrate that we are a real force. That way we can have our opinions heard and included not only now but in the future.