Brexit event debates the future for children in Wales

Swansea University hosted a key event to discuss the consequences of Brexit for children in Wales and to make recommendations on the political priorities for a post-Brexit Wales.

Brexit: Implications for Children in Wales, held on the 19th January at the College of Law and Criminology included representatives from the Welsh government, local government, and the non-government sector, as well as children and young people’s groups. The conference heard from young people directly about their concerns over issues such as the rise in racist incidents against young people from ethnic minorities following the Brexit vote, and the loss of opportunities to work and travel previously available to other generations.

Brexit

Children constitute over 20% of the UK population, and have the biggest stake in the long-term impact of Brexit. Despite this children and young people were denied a say in the referendum on membership of the EU, and their interests continue to be overlooked in discussions about the priorities of Brexit.

A recommendation from the conference was that the Welsh Government has a duty to take account of the impact of Brexit children’s rights and should therefore prioritize protection of the social benefits for children which come with EU membership. Other suggestions included making sure EU funding for children’s services is replaced; lowering the voting age in Wales to 16 and providing a social guarantee of rights for everyone in Wales, including migrants, asylum seekers and refugees. (Full list of recommendations below.)

A report on the event has now been prepared by Dr Simon Hoffman, the organiser of the conference. Dr Hoffman, coordinators of the Wales Observatory on Human Rights of Children and Young People based at Swansea University, said: “We hope the Welsh Government will act on the recommendations from this event to protect children’s interests in a post-Brexit Wales. The consequences of not doing so would be harmful to children in Wales now and in the future.”

Enquiries should be directed to:

Dr Simon Hoffman

Co-ordinator: Wales Observatory on Human Rights of Children and Young People

01792 513004

s.hoffman@swansea.ac.uk

 Recommendations

**  indicates recommendation is directed to the Welsh Government.

  1. Provide more opportunities, and coordinate activities for CYP to respond to Brexit and feed into the debates about a post-Brexit Wales; making use of formal and informal mechanisms, including social media.
  2. Involve CYP directly at the earliest possible stage and as many CYP as possible from a range of backgrounds, do this via organisations that provide a platform for CYP to participate, but also with all CYP e.g. through schools.
  3. Ensure that CYP are properly informed about how their views will feed in to the debate about Brexit, and what the possible outcomes might be.
  4. Take a lead on providing information and education suitable for CYP of all ages on the possible consequences of Brexit, so that CYP can meaningfully participate in any debate about priorities.**
  5. Undertake curriculum reform to ensure that today’s CYP, and CYP of the future, are properly educated about issues which proved divisive during the run-up to Brexit so that a post-Brexit Wales; including issue based education on issues such as immigration.**
  6. Provide feedback to CYP on how their contributions to the Brexit debate have been taken into account by the Welsh Government.**
  7. Support a Youth Summit to bring together CYP to discuss and make recommendations on priorities for a post-Brexit Wales.**
  8. As a matter of urgency, review services to ensure they fully meet the needs of CYP and are delivered most effectively.
  9. Collaborate with each other to ensure that services are arranged and delivered in the most efficient way in order to limit the impact of any withdrawal of EU funding.
  10. Urgently prioritise securing a guarantee of funding from the UK government equivalent to funding lost as a result of Brexit.**
  11. Take all necessary steps to safeguard education and well-being services for children.**
  12. Be clear about the objectives for children and children’s services in a post-Brexit Wales and the contribution anticipated from all sectors, providing a stronger lead where services are supported by public funds.**
  13. Carry out CRIA on any change to services as a result of Brexit.**
  14. Introduce Children’s Rights Budgeting, especially where services are likely to be affected by Brexit.**
  15. Lower the voting age in Wales to 16 as soon as possible.**
  16. Preserve international youth mobility, e.g. Erasmus.**
  17. Provide a ‘social guarantee’ to all people in Wales, including migrants, asylum seekers and refugees; this should guarantee that all people in Wales will be entitled to rights regardless of their country of citizenship.**
  18. Take a lead on positive narratives about migrants, asylum seekers and refugees.**