Posted: 29 June 2016

EU Referendum: Brexit and young people

Now that the EU referendum debate is over, and the results have been declared, we are taking stock as to what this might mean for children and young people. While there are immediate, profound changes unfolding before us in the political and economic context, in reality, many implications for children won’t be known or play out for some time.

Whatever view people took, we now need to focus our efforts on building the new reality with children in mind, and in particular supporting the most vulnerable. The potential ramifications for children and young people are complex; decisions over the coming months will be critically important for young people’s futures, and at The Children’s Society, we will play our part in making sure their needs are both heard and addressed.

Here, we offer some initial reflections on what this could mean for children and young people.

 1. Economic turbulence

First, the financial uncertainty as a result of this will have an impact both on family finances and also on public services. Past experience tells us that economic turbulence will be felt most quickly by those already struggling – families on low incomes and those already living in squeezed circumstances. Any economic squeeze is highly likely to have an impact on child poverty rates in the UK, which we saw in official figures released early this week, have jumped dramatically over the last year. Through all this The Children’s Society will tirelessly stand with the most vulnerable in society, in the communities we have the privilege of working with.

Through all this The Children’s Society will tirelessly stand with the most vulnerable in society, in the communities we have the privilege of working with.

2. Young people's voices

Second, a stark contrast was observed in voting patterns between younger and older people in this referendum and this could leave many young people feeling alienated and apprehensive about the future. More positively, this could open up a welcome conversation about participation and the democratic engagement of young people. Not just about voting age, but a chance to begin a conversation about building optimism and engagement for future generations. The voices of young people must be heard and engaged with as we build the future of our nation. As the scale of complex negotiations become clearer, children’s charities will need to be resolute in protecting children’s rights in any new agreements.

3. Standing against intolerance

Third, the media is currently reporting disturbing examples of discrimination, racism and xenophobia and this can never be tolerated. There is the obvious harmful impact of abuse aimed directly at children but also the disturbing effect on communities where children live. As charities working with vulnerable children, we need to particularly support young people and families facing adversity, marginalisation and discrimination. At The Children’s Society we are committed to inclusivity and tenaciously protecting our vision of the dignity and value of all people; we will continue to champion a society where all can thrive and flourish. We will stand up against racism and intolerance and push for political and community leaders to do the same.

4. An uncertain future

Finally, negotiations about the future will not be resolved any time soon. Our focus at The Children’s Society is on the further horizon of how the next chapter of the UK’s story is written, and how that will enable today’s young people - the next generation - to thrive, flourish and realise their full potential.

At The Children’s Society, championing the needs of the most vulnerable children and young people and making sure they have a voice is core to who we are and what we do. We remain resolute in our determination. We will galvanise our amazing supporters, volunteers, staff and young people themselves to make this a reality.


By Matthew Reed - Leadership team