A perspective of a young person on UK.
July has come to an end and so did the 35th Convention of YEU. A lot has happened during this period and it affects the world, us that we live on it and also young people who will be taking over in the future to come. Some say that it brought us together, some disagree. But what is the opinion of young people? Of course we cannot know all the opinions out there, but we have to try. It is a hard time for all of us and we as YEU stand, and will do so,next to young people no matter the background, the gender, the origins or the color. Terrorism or any other action against youth, will find us fighting against it and promoting the prosperity of the youth. Therefore, YEU continues with being aware of youngsters' opinion and this time we conducted an interview with a person present during the 35th Convention. Main topic of the discussion was Brexit, hate crimes and xenophobia in UK, post-EU effects on youth and other related topics.
For safety reasons, the nationality, name or gender of the person will not be shared as the topic is still fresh and it could affect personally the person who was interviewed.
Here is the interview as recorded by a member of the office, during the events in the 35th Convention.
What were your feelings before, during and after the voting on Brexit?
Before, I was not expecting it to be an out vote at all. Everybody I spoke to, obviously most of them were in my circle, were all voting remain. Everybody who was voting to leave, wasn’t expecting for that to be the outcome. So for me, I was just completely fine, I said it was going to be fine, everybody is going to vote for remain. When I found out, it was 5 o’clock in the morning watching it on a live stream. I was actually at a party and people had music playing and I was sitting with my phone and headphones on. Then when I found out and I told everybody, everybody was in shock and really really devastated, because no one was expecting it. Everybody our age and everybody at the party had been voting to remain. After, kind of the feeling of annoyance at the other people that voted leave and having them saying “I wasn’t expecting it to happen”. Most of people expected us to remain so the people would even vote leave, just to make a stand and not willing to suffer the consequences of their vote coming true. So there was a lot of people, my age and youth, after it that were annoyed and that’s why there was a big divide for the week after between the elderly and younger people. Younger people were blaming the elders for the vote, as there was a massive percentage of them voting to leave and a massive percentage of young people voted to remain.
What are your feelings as a youngster? Do you think it can have effects, like in chances, possibilities, mobility? As before, still are and about to leave the part of the EU? How will that affect all the above and also youth initiatives beyond the UK. Will that affect actually?
Definitely, it is going to affect it, as we have no backup plan, no concrete evidence from the EU to say that the free movement of labour out of the UK – that we can go work- is still going to be the same. It’s looking like is not going to be the same. The opportunities of working, finding jobs in 27 other countries before, are striped from us and now when we are going to be looking for job there we are going to be like outsiders applying for visas and then come back for 6 months and then applying for more visas. Very difficult scenario and as a youngster that loves to travel and work and travel everywhere. It is like a real problem for me, as I always had the idea of just moving somewhere, getting a job, working and then I would be free to move somewhere else. Which I would have been before but now with the case of visas it is not going to happen.
Beyond EU and what you just said, if I tell you to comment the statement “I feel European” or not, what would you say?
I‘d say, for me personally, I feel European in a sense of the continent, but European as a person, as part of my identity no. That’s something in common with young people in the UK.
As you got to describe to us your feelings related to the voting/referendum and also about the part of European mobility and chances, I would like to ask you how do you see UK from this point and on as we see hate crimes and hate speech are raising. As a young person how does that affect you?
It affects me in an emotional level, when I see these reactions. I think these people who are committing these crimes were always there, but this (Brexit) gave them a platform and they think they have something, they think they have a reason to commit these crimes. They don’t want these foreigners within their country and they think it gives them the right to commit these crimes just because of their nationality, which is really sad. Whether I think it is going to continue, I think not. I think this spike happened just after Brexit, as people thought they have a reason and as time goes on it shouldn’t –I think hate crime rates will go minimum, as they were before. This Brexit spike won’t go for very long. I don’t think so.
You are present during an international event, a youth exchange –YEU Convention. As you know, YEU is an international youth organization, part of civil society, trying to change the world. Do you think as a youngster that you have possibilities through this sector (NGOs & civil society) or are there any chances in UK and in Europe –being in EU or not- to change the world? Do you feel empowered by similar actions, as this exchange, to make a change?
I think together, if nations come together forgetting that we voted to leave the EU, if we can still play a part in collaborating with these different nations and different young people and all have these feelings on how to change and how to better Europe and the world, then yes we can still make a difference. It might suffer as a result of us coming out, we might not feel so close to each other as before –being part of the EU- so the collaboration might suffer a little bit. However, if people are willing to move past the Brexit and just come together as one then we can still have endless possibilities on how to better the world.
Please make a statement, for the young people who are going to see this interview. What do you have to say to them? British or not, Europeans or not, what would you say to the people?
I would say to Europeans, Britain still loves Europe. When I had to conduct some interviews, 2 women that voted to leave, they said they very much want to be part of Europe and they consider themselves as European. They just felt that the EU wasn’t right for them, so what I would say is that the UK still wants to be Europe and collaborate with all these countries. It is just a decision we have taken upon ourselves as a democracy to leave but we still very much would like to be a part.
For British people, I would don’t worry. It is going to be ok. We will suffer in the short run, but in the long term we should be able to come up with solutions to problems that have been arise by this.
Interview done by Panagiotis Chatzimichail