Brexit: Children & Young People's Participation

Date: 16th April 2018
Category: Other human rights treaties and mechanisms, Respect for the views of the child

Discussions around Brexit tend to overlook the impact it will have on children and young people and few attempts have been made to reach out to them and hear their views. However, several projects and proposals highlight positive steps being taken in Wales, Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. These examples go beyond surveys and establish more active, face-to-face and ongoing engagement with children and young people.

Welsh Government announces consultation with children and young people on Brexit

On 19th March 2018, the Welsh Government launched plans for a "wide-ranging consultation with children and young people to ensure that they have a say about the Brexit process". Participation in the project will be voluntary and facilitated by Children in Wales.

The Welsh Government's plan makes specific reference to Article 12 UNCRC which sets out a child's right to express a view and have this taken into account when adults are making decisions affecting them. Accordingly, the Welsh Government says that "the consultation will ensure that Ministers understand the views of children and young people" and that these inform discussions and decisions about Wales' future after Brexit.

The core of the consultation shall be conducted through schools and local youth groups. Additionally, there are plans to provide digital and social media resources so that children are kept informed of what's happening in the Brexit process, a Brexit Advisory Group made up of 12 young people, and 25 youth-ledworkshops which shall engage with more than 600 children.

The final report is expected in Autumn 2018.

A space for the voices of young, BME women in the Brexit process

A further Welsh project is providing a space for the voices of young, BME women in the Brexit process. The project, run by WISERD and the Wales Ethnic Youth Support Team, involves a series of focus groups for young BME women (aged 15-25). The project is an extension of WISERD's broader "Young People and Brexit" study, which involved engagement between young people and stakeholders.

Young people from both sides of Irish border present report to APPG

Further activities have been taking place in Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. A cross-border conference took place in November 2017 which brought children and young people from both sides of the Irish border together. This conference was led by a steering group of young people and also attended by MPs and officials. The final report, "It's Our Brexit Too: Children's Rights, Children's Voices", details the concerns raised by the children who attended, ranging from free movement, education and discrimination through to child protection and health.

On 5th March 2018, a group of young people presented the final report to MPs and officials at the All Party Parliamentary Group for Children and Young People.

A further presentation of the report is to be made to the British-Irish Parliamentary Assembly at its upcoming plenary meeting.

The above examples show positive steps being taken to ascertain children and young people's views on Brexit and highlight the importance of establishing active and ongoing mechanisms for their participation. In particular, Together would welcome the Scottish Government taking a similar approach to the Welsh Government by holding a similar consultation to engage with children and young people. This would help ensure that children's rights and interests are protected in future decisions.