Wednesday, 14 September 2016

Converse wisely. Roundtable talks on Brexit at the British Youth Council.

Remember that scene from King’s Speech when Colin Firth as George VI somewhat indignantly blurts out “I have a voice” at a baffled Geoffrey Rush portraying his speech therapist?

If you have seen the film (and who has not seen it really?) you must remember that moment, that crucial turning point where after a lifelong battle with stammer, the King finally realizes that he indeed can fulfill his duty and that the thing that has haunted him his entire life can be overcome with the support of others.

On August 31st I was given a unique opportunity to join the roundtable talks with a number of representatives of various youth organization from all across the UK. The event titled: “Roundtable: Inclusive and Diverse Communities and Youth Voice on Brexit” took place at the British Youth Council headquarters in London.

It was a privilege to have been able to hear young people’s opinions, questions, concerns, and their general take on Brexit negotiations. At the beginning of our session we were asked to describe, with one word, what exiting the European Union meant to us personally. These words were later read aloud around the room. They were very vocal expressions of genuine concern and disappointment as well as anxiety about our futures. During these few, highly productive afternoon hours we discussed a list of Brexit related topics key to young Brits today. We spoke about the quality of state education, freedom of movement, voting rights, the economy, hate crime and many other matters.

We, young people, youth activists have our beloved, vibrant communities. We ourselves are a community. We have a voice. We have a voice and we want it to be heard. We have our strong opinions, inspiring thoughts, good suggestions and our politically viable ideas MUST be taken seriously. We do not wish to be sat at the kids’ table at the dinner party merely being able to overhear the clanging of the cutlery and a muffled yet heated debate from the main dining room.

As Europeers UK it is our pivotal goal to keep and further develop Erasmus+ opportunities for UK youth and it is our assiduous mission to be present at the forefront of a widespread debate and be an advocate for this issue. We will remain strong and continue our campaign until we are certain that these requests can be secured during the actual negotiations.  

Written in Leytonstone on September 4th 2016
By Olga Ambrosiewicz, Europeers UK Steering group member