Brexit has left communities divided and young people isolated

Brexit youth

Youth workers have raised a series of concerns about leaving the European Union, a report by two charities has revealed

7th March 2019 by Gareth Jones 0 Comments

Brexit has left communities divided and young people feeling isolated.

A report by two youth work sector organisations shows youth workers have witnessed a negative impact on community relations since the EU Referendum in June 2016.

Over half of those who responded to the survey reported a variety of impacts on the community including: young people feeling excluded from democracy, emboldened intolerance on social media, divided communities, and a loss of public trust in information.

YouthLink Scotland and Youth Scotland have collaborated to explore the impact of Brexit on the youth work sector in Scotland and to support youth workers in their work with young people on Brexit.

The findings of the Hear.EU project show youth work practitioners do not feel informed about Brexit, and the majority of respondents were unsure of the financial impact on the sector, although their perception of future funding was broadly understood to be negative.

A total of 168 youth work practitioners working and volunteering across Scotland were asked about their views through a combination of workshops and an online survey between December 2018 and January 2019.

Tim Frew, chief executive of YouthLink Scotland, said: “It is clear that as we approach the final deadline for Brexit, there is considerable unease across society about the impact of leaving the EU, and that includes Scotland’s youth work sector.

“We know that many Scottish young people have felt disenfranchised through the process of the EU referendum and in the events that have followed. At the very heart of youth work is the voice of young people, it is essential to ensure that young people can realise their rights, be able to participate fully in our democracy and have a voice in the decisions that may affect their future.”

Ian McLaughlan, chief executive of Youth Scotland, said: “At its heart, youth work is about empowering young people in our communities and enabling them to form and express views on their democratic rights and participate as active citizens.

“However, through this research it is clear that youth workers are seeing the impact which Brexit is having on many young people in their communities, with a lack of engagement in the process and lack of information leading to feelings of disempowerment.”

Both organisations have pledged to support youth workers through the Brexit process, and will fight for continued investment in projects.

Michael Russell MSP, Cabinet Secretary for Government Business and Constitutional Relations, has vowed that the Scottish Government will listen to concerns raised by the sector.

He said: “It’s been really important throughout this divisive and disruptive Brexit process for people across Scotland to have their voices heard.

“YouthLink Scotland’s workshops have engaged youth workers, children and young people across the country and their work has helped to inform my ongoing discussions with the UK Government and other devolved administrations.

“The Scottish Government is committed to proactively publishing information on the potential impacts of Brexit on youth work, and will continue to listen to young people about the UK leaving the EU.”