THE BLOG
19/02/2016 11:57 GMT | Updated 18/02/2017 05:12 GMT

Nothing Grey About the EU Issue

With all the debate surrounding the UK's future in Europe, there is good reason to believe that young people don't care, and it will be yet another key policy debate dominated and determined by the 'grey' vote.

Whatever reason or phrase you use to describe it - apathy, disillusionment, mistrust - when it comes to the traditional mechanisms of politics, at no point in modern history have young people in England and Wales been less engaged.

Young people are now less likely to be members of a political party or union, less likely to register and less likely to vote than at any point in the recent past. Turnout among young people from the UK at the last European Parliament elections in 2014 was a shocking 19%.

However, in a recent piece of research undertaken by YMCA looking at what matters most for young people, when asked if the UK should remain part of the EU, 72% of the more than 2,000 young people surveyed said 'yes'.

There was definitely nothing grey about the findings with the level of support remaining consistent across the young people surveyed, with little distinction between genders, ages and regions (at least 65% support in each category) and with only 18% saying they're still undecided.

While putting young people at odds with the latest polls, what the research does show is that contrary to popular conceptions, young people are thinking about and formulating a clear view on one of the most important issues currently facing the country.

But whether in favour of 'Brexit', staying put, or still undecided, it is critical that young people make these views count in the debate and most importantly, at the ballot box.

Because, in reality, it is young people who have the most to lose and the most to gain from this referendum, as it is them who will have to live longest with the consequences of the result. As such, it is imperative that, through all the noise, their voices are heard.

It is too easy for decision makers to dismiss young people's lack of recent engagement as a sign that they don't care.

By publishing the findings from this survey, we want to kickstart the debate among young people and make sure that their voices are front and centre of perhaps the biggest decision the people of this country will make in the coming years.