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Brexit's Disenfranchised Youths: Don't Get Mad, Get Active

17/11/2016 12:26
Bloomberg via Getty Images

The events of last Thursday have somehow cast more uncertainty into the most uncertain political situation in the UK in recent memory. Even before the ruling, the country lay in a state of political limbo. An environment where countless young people felt let down or angry.

The situation now is bordering on the absurd and it is understandable that a lot of young people are dismissing the political set up in this country as a waste of their time. But as a lot of the promises made by the leave campaign continue to unravel, it is more important than ever that young people act to repair the division in the country.

As a remain voter I was disappointed as anyone about the result. Watching thousands of young people take to the streets in protest and many more thousands venting their fury on social media, I couldn't help also feeling uneasy. Overnight it appeared our country became us vs them and things haven't eased in the months that have followed.

It is very easy to dismiss opinions that are not the same as yours. Despite the faults of the leave campaign there are also some very genuine reasons why people would be sceptical of EU membership. I think in all the furore and aftermath, that fact has been lost.

So perhaps it is the job of young people to extend an olive branch? At the end of the day this is our future and we are the ones who will live with the decision for longer. There is now a job to be done, one that becomes increasingly difficult in this ongoing climate of uncertainty.

One sector that has still barely registered on the political agenda but is in an extremely uncertain situation in the UK is youth work. One of the big failings of the Stronger In campaign was that it was one of the most negative political campaigns ever seen on this side of the Atlantic. They missed a golden chance to highlight the social benefits of the EU including programs such as Erasmus Plus.

The Erasmus Plus program lacks the limelight of the better known Erasmus program. The effects the program has had however are arguably far more impactful. The program has changed the lives of thousands of young people in the UK, often from disadvantaged backgrounds, by promoting intercultural learning, enhancing leadership and employability, and providing opportunities which they'd never be able to afford on their own.

Naturally this program is under serious threat after the Brexit vote but hope remains as many non-EU countries take part as well. That's why Europeers UK have launched their latest crowdfunding campaign. Europeers are a group of young people with ambitious plans to persuade the government that staying in the Erasmus Plus program needs to be part of the Brexit negotiations, should they happen as planned. Other countries buy in to Erasmus Plus without being EU members, so the UK can too.

Anyone can pledge their support to the campaign or join the movement, and partnership with other groups is welcomed.

When I wrote my last blog about a month before the referendum, I was challenged by Brexit supporters who asked why we can't build a program of our own. Well despite constant speculation on how different sectors can adapt to Brexit, there has been total silence on how we would address the massive loss of funds and support to youth organisations across the country, which are already on their knees after years of cutbacks.

At the moment we face a black hole which has serious ramifications for the long term health of our country. Young people still have a chance to make their voices heard and the older generations still have a chance to show young people in the UK that they haven't been abandoned.

To pledge your support to the Europeers project head to http://www.crowdfunder.co.uk/europeers-uk/

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