Children and Young People
Children and Young people overwhelmingly showed a keen interest in understanding the impact of Brexit on them. With support from the three organisations that were successful in gaining funding, they delivered research on various aspects of how the UK’s exit from the EU is likely to impact children and young people and those who work with them.
Three projects were funded to consider the impact of Brexit on children and young people.
- Children in Scotland’s Children and Young People’s Panel on Europe;
- Youth Link Scotland’s Hear.EU analysis report into the effects of Brexit on youth work in Scotland; and
- My Life My Say Brexit Cafes hosted in Glasgow, Edinburgh and Aberdeen.
Children and Young People's Panel on Europe
Children in Scotland, in Partnership with Together (Scottish Alliance for Children’s Rights), delivered the Children and Young People’s Panel on Europe. The panel investigated the various aspects of Brexit that are likely to affect them, and what solutions they feel should be looked at.
The panel met with the First Minister’s Standing Council, were interviewed on BBC Radio 5 live, and met with a cross-party group at the Scottish Parliament, where they discussed their work and findings.
"The Panel has not focused on identifying a preferred outcome for the negotiations or the deal between the UK and the EU. Instead they provide decision makers with knowledge about what is important to children and young people."
Key points from the panel are that:
- Children and young people are politically aware and their views should be heard, a right under article 12 of the UN Convention on Rights of the Child;
- There should be a continuation of the Erasmus+ programme;
- There should be continuation of EU funding for vital sectors such as agriculture and scientific research;
- There are serious security concerns in regards to leaving the European Union;
- Opportunities to work, study and travel in Europe are important and should be protected;
- Children and young people want to protect environmental, health and work place standards; and
- When new trade deals are being negotiated this should be conducted publicly.
- Recommendations in the report stress the importance of EU funding programmes and continuing participation within them;
- The panel were concerned about future restrictions and increased cost which would make it more difficult to work, study and travel in Europe. They were particularly concerned about the risk of visas being required to travel in Europe and made a number of recommendations about the desirability of visa free travel as well as addressing cost and bureaucracy of visas, which could stop young people from travelling and working in Europe;
- European funded projects have supported a wide range of activity in Scotland, including work with young people, such as the Imaginate’s PUSH project. EU support has helped organisations and individuals to develop closer links with counterparts in the rest of the EU, helping them to learn from each other and develop their work in new and interesting ways; and
- Throughout the report the importance of exchange and collaboration between people from different countries is highlighted. This is particularly important for artists and others looking to develop careers in the culture sector.
My Life My Say and Social Bite
Having been successful in delivering Brexit discussion cafes in England, Wales and other European countries, My Life My Say partnered up with Social Bite in Scotland to deliver this project that was aimed at college and university aged students and under 25 young professionals. The aim of these cafes was to create open dialogue between young people with different views on Brexit and to look at raising awareness in regards to their opinions. The Scottish cafés also fed into the overall report that was produced by the London School of Economics. Many of the same concerns were raised around rights
The following high-level points arose at the Brexit cafes in Scotland:
- The difficulties leaving the EU will cause for young people seeking to work and study in European Union countries;
- A deep concern in regards to the negative impact that Northern Ireland would face if there was to be a hard border;
- There was a call for more clarity around protection on rights for young people in the United Kingdom and young European citizens;
- The impact of Brexit on a divided UK, and how this is affecting young people; and
- Serious concerns about racism, and the rise in xenophobia.
"One of our rights is to be heard and respected and we want to exercise that!"
The focus groups asked about what young people expected the potential impact of Brexit to be on their lives. Focus group participants were asked ‘how will Brexit affect you and other young people in the next ten years?’ This question was explicitly framed in an open-ended and neutral way in order to allow for positive, negative and neutral responses. Participants involved in the Brexit cafes overwhelmingly thought the impact of Brexit on young people would have negative consequences, though a much smaller number of participants envisioned the impact of Brexit optimistically.
"Many young people are worried that they will have fewer opportunities, and this affects their future more than other groups."
Youth Scotland (the network for community based youth work) and YouthLink Scotland (the national agency for youth work) collaborated to investigate the impact of Brexit on the youth work sector in Scotland and to support youth workers in their work with young people on Brexit. Youth workers are on the front line when it comes to dealing with challenging questions and debates from young people. The report shows that 380,000 young people access youth work in Scotland each week, so there are many opportunities to inform and support young people to learn about the decisions that affect them.
Highlights from the report included:
- 39% of respondents to the survey thought there would be a negative financial impact on their youth work organisation. Funding was a recurring concern;
- A respondent stated “it will damage years of working together with our partners in the rest of Europe;” and
- Youth workers did not feel confident speaking to young people about leaving the EU.
Organisations are worried that youth work will have less overall funding as a direct impact of Brexit because of the loss of specific EU programmes and project funds such as Leader, Erasmus+, and ESF. Loss of these funds will affect organisations ability to develop international cooperation, and will disproportionately impact organisations in rural areas and those working on youth employment priorities. There is also a negative impact on staff learning and development, and for young people to experience new places, culture, and volunteer, work or study in Europe. It is expected that Scotland will be a more inward looking place, with less diversity and increased isolation from those who have been partners of the youth work sector as decisions in regards to youth work are being made further away from communities.
"I am of the opinion that we have been able to give the nation’s young people a voice!"
Scottish Government response to the issues raised
The rights of children and young people are a key priority for the Scottish Government. We are working hard to create an inclusive Scotland that protects, respects, promotes and fulfils these rights. Children and young people have a right to be heard about the issues that affect them. Leaving the EU will have a huge impact on children and young people, and they will have to live with the consequences for longer. The Cabinet Secretary for Government Business and Constitutional Relations, Michael Russell MSP made a strong commitment to supporting the children and young people in Scotland, and to support them to have a voice in regards to Brexit. The Scottish Government will continue to make the case for the importance of free movement, and will urge the UK Government to take the specific needs of the sector into account in its negotiations with the EU. Scottish Government wrote to UK Government Minister Stephen Barclay MP, Secretary of State for Existing the European Union on behalf of the Children’s Panel who requested a meeting to share their report.