Amy Longland graduated from ParliaMentors in 2016 and now works for My Life My Say
Youth engagement, dialogue, motivation and inclusion have always been important to me. From my political beginnings as Member of Youth Parliament for my local area, to studying my Masters in International Relations, the centrality of bridging that gap between generations, social background, class, ethnicity and religion has been fundamental.
Last year I was a media spokesperson for the Students for Europe campaign my message was always ‘what about young people?’ I spoke to the Guardian, EYPUK, and the BBC passionately imploring young people to register, to turn out, to have a say in a decision that would affect their futures irrevocably. Given the record-breaking turnout of young people in the referendum you could argue that my message was well received; yet whilst over 75% of young people voted to remain, the democratic majority decided we would leave.
‘how do you prevent this huge voting bloc, who now feel like their choice was ignored, from disengaging with politics forever?’
Since then the question I’ve asked myself is ‘how do you prevent this huge voting bloc, who now feel like their choice was ignored, from disengaging with politics forever?’ And as a young person myself, I ask how do I mitigate the fallout from the referendum amongst my peers, how do I ensure that we stick together and get the best outcome, how do I ensure that young people aren’t overlooked in the Brexit negotiations just as they were in the organising and execution of the referendum itself?
That’s why it’s imperative that we work together. That we attempt to bypass divisions and ensure that cross-party, cross-campaign, cross-country, we are all working towards a better Brexit for us – for young people. That’s why charities such as 3FF and the ParliaMentors programme (that I was lucky enough to be involved in last year) are so important, and that it is crucial that events such as the Interfaith Summit take place – because they encourage dialogue and discussion across a huge cross-section of the community. I was honoured to have chaired the panel ‘Faith on Campus’ and to be a panellist in the session ‘Trust, Unity and Reconciliation after the EU referendum’ at the Interfaith Summit 2016. Both sessions were fascinating not least because they embodied what we need more than ever in this country: a safe, inclusive space to discuss issues which affect us most. When discussing both subject matters, what stands out to me is the intersectionality of those affected by each.
After my campaigning experience and my year on ParliaMentors, I now work for My Life My Say (www.mlms.org.uk) as a Programme and Partnerships Officer. My role focuses on the overall aim of enthusing young people, of including them in the Brexit process, and creating a structured engagement process whereby their issues, queries, contributions and ideas are listened to and can influence parliamentary policy. This will involve lots of different projects but the key one will be the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on a Better Brexit for Young people. The only one of its kind, this APPG will directly link research into the attitudes and beliefs of young people surrounding Brexit, plus youth engagement and mobilisation groups, to decisions-makers in government. In other words, this APPG will ensure that young people across different cultures, faiths, beliefs and the political spectrum cannot be overlooked. We must acknowledge that we now face deep divisions and we must ensure that as leaders, as active young people, we do not let others become disenfranchised. We need to talk, listen and act. We have a number of upcoming events check out the opportunities page to see them.