When ELLIE KIELLER was 4 years old she watched a Disney film and fell in love with Paris. Next month she will move there – but first she’ll be marching in London to make sure others can make their European dream a reality.
I’m 4 years old. I’ve just watched Disney’s The Aristocats and I fall in love with the idea of, one day, living in Paris.
I’m 14 years old. My high school language lessons have purpose, give me empowerment and make me want to enjoy and experience the world I live in to the full. I know that I am free to safely travel around a whole continent of opportunity and I plan to do so as much as possible.
I’m now 24 years old and in 10 days in time, I’m making my dream of living and working in Paris come true.
Growing up as a citizen of the of the European Union has not only helped me to follow my dreams but has taught me to exceed them. I have been afforded opportunities to travel, to develop my independence as a young woman in a safe and empowering way and to be interested in and to satisfy my interest in places and people beyond the UK. The EU has given me the legal status and ability to search for the job that I’m starting next month but it’s also given me the courage to say go for it and the communication skills, that extend beyond a shared language, that I’ll need to do it.
But, the EU has not only given me opportunities to travel and to grow; it has also undoubtedly enriched my experience of the UK. I grew up in the beautiful city of Manchester surrounded not only by the wonderful people of Manchester but also by friends, teachers and community leaders from across the continent. As a child, I was consistently absorbing others’ experiences, celebrating different cultures and languages and learning about families that were different from my own. I can see only now that I’m older and I understand myself (a little bit) more that that childhood experience was invaluable. At my most impressionable, I was learning not only to be ‘tolerant’ of others but to love and to celebrate what made us all who we were; without those people around me and without those lessons, I am sure I would not be the outgoing and open-minded woman that I am proud to be today.
And those invaluable lessons didn’t stop when I ‘grew up’. Attending the University of Birmingham, I was taught by, studied and worked with people from across the European Union. My lecturers enriched my curriculum with their interests and specialist knowledge, my friends on Erasmus schemes shared a different perspective and their understanding of issues and topics we navigated together. I watched and visited as my UK friends studied abroad, developed themselves, built relationships and grew professionally in other European Countries; none of which would have been possible without EU benefits such as the Erasmus scheme and Freedom of Movement. The EU provided both me and all of those people with a wealth of opportunity that is now threatened in its entirety by making a mess of a Brexit that no one voted for.
Whilst I was an avid Remainer, for all of the reasons outlined above and many more, I do respect that in 2016, other people had votes and opinions that differed from mine. However, 2 years later, the government have not been able to make sense of the Brexit that was promised and that people voted for. Issues, such as the Irish border, our NHS staff and stocks of vital medication were not even considered and discussed during the referendum campaign. Add into this electoral fraud from the Leave campaign and it’s fair to say that the UK are heading in a direction that no-one even discussed, never mind actually voted for.
This is why, I’m calling for a People’s Vote on the Brexit Deal and it’s why I’m a proud spokesperson for For our Futures Sake, a youth and student led movement who are standing up against a botched Brexit. British people deserve clarity on Brexit, they deserve to vote with an true and detailed understand what is and isn’t possible and they deserve to know the impact it will have their lives and livelihoods.
This weekend thousands of students and young people will be marching on Parliament at the People’s Vote March for the Future. We’re doing it for the future of the United Kingdom, and for every young person’s dreams.
• Ellie Kieller is a supporter of the For our Future’s Sake movement.