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  • Writer's picturealicjapawluczuk

The Festival of Politics 2018 - 'Brexit and Young People' panel discussion

The future of Brexit was one of the key themes of this year's Festival of Politics. This annual event takes place at the Scottish Parliament and its aim is to 'provoke and inspire people of all ages and from every walk of life to listen, engage and debate'. In October , I was invited to join a panel discussion on 'Brexit and Young People' (*yes, I'm U35 yrs and can still considered as a young person according to some EU recommendations...)

The 14th edition of the Festival of Politics covered a range of topics and social campaigns. For example, some of this years events examined the social impacts of campaigns such as #MeToo campaign and the Scotland’s Year of Young People #YOYP2018. In addition, there was a variety of events focusing on society's relationship with digital technologies - fake news, social media addiction, internet governance and AI.


There was an evident emphasis on the Scotland’s Year of Young People with a number of events focusing on young people's problems and their voices. Young people's perspectives were explored in the contexts of youth-quake, the problem of youth homelessness and gender equality. Finally, there was a special event dedicated to 'Young People and Brexit':

"The demographics of the Brexit vote reported that 73% of people under the age of 24 who turned out, voted to remain; compared with only 40% of people over the age of 60. Join chair Jack Norquoy MSYP our panellists Tom Harwood, Vote Leave NUS; Alicja Pawluczuk, Edinburgh Napier University; Caroline Macfarland, Director of Common Vision; and Emma Ruse, Communic18, to discuss the future for young people in Brexit Britain"

*my DIY 'notes-collage' on Brexit , higher education and youth work

Young People and Brexit panel discussion took place on 13th October. The event was sold out and the room packed with young audience members. I had a privilege to share and exchange my views with the other panellists, who represented a rich and varied range of perspectives. I was particularly impressed with the work of Caroline Macfarland, whose work is instrumental in providing balanced and research-based information on young people's attitudes towards Brexit. Caroline is a director of the Common Vision, an organisation which set up Brexit Watch - 'a project aiming to build bridges between policymakers and young people around the politics and process of leaving the EU'.

Overall, I found the discussion useful and informative in the context of our awareness (or lack of it) when it comes to Brexit negotiations, and the visions of the post-Brexit Britain. Unfortunately, due to a limited amount of time (the session was 60min) it was quite challenging to cover, critically reflect and discuss some of the questions - in a sense, that is also why the event ended with no coherent conclusion...but isn't that is so characteristic when it comes to most Brexit related talks?

I'd like to finish this post on a positive note. However, as an immigrant and a New-Scot, I find it quite difficult NOT to view Brexit through my personal experience. Brexit is affecting my thinking and behaviour on so many different levels, and as I argued during #FoP2018 debate, people's mental health is negatively affected by the ongoing uncertainty (see Brexit Anxiety). That is why I really struggled to sum up the discussion with an optimistic outlook.

However, I'd encourage some of you to take a look at some of the fascinating work carried out by the Children and Young People's Panel on Europe (make sure to follow their reporter's team on Twitter @cisweb_live). In addition, Jack Norquoy MSYP, who chaired the panel session (and showed off some 1st class time + conflict management skills!) recommended free courses offered by the Open University - you can visit their page and search under Brexit tag, there is plenty to choose from.

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