EU Referendum: Should We Stay Or Should We Go?

Photo description – Students and staff are standing in one of the classrooms after one of the debates. Left to right – Lead PSO (Pastoral Support Officer) Barry Morris holds a sign saying ‘OUT’, Emma is undecided so is not holding a poster, Laura, Tiri, Erin and Maisy are all holding ‘IN’ posters and PSO Cathy is kneeling down in front of them leaning on the table.

Thursday 23 June represents a landmark occasion in the UK’s history when the EU referendum takes place to decide whether we leave or remain a part of the European Union. As the nation debates the future of the UK, at RNC (Royal National College for the Blind), we have been holding our own series of events to help our students gather information, understand what democracy really means and vote for what they believe in. Over the last few weeks we have had regular debates, information sessions looking at both sides and a visit from the Hereford electoral service; a representative from the local Council went through the process of voting with mock ballot papers and turned the student hub into a polling station for the day.

 

Rachel Beaumont, RNC’s Chair of the EDI (Equality, Diversity and Inclusion) Steering Group said “The interest from our students has been fantastic; on the day of our mock polling station we had lots of students coming along to ask questions and learn more. Some registered on the day and some were shown how to register online by our staff afterwards. Whichever way they vote, it’s important that they’ve been able to have the tools to make an informed decision and they can take part in the democratic process.”

 

Photo description – Close up image of Tom bending down at a both with a bright yellow large print ballot paper in front of him. There is a guide being held over the ballot paper and someone from the council is standing beside him holding it in place.]

Many of our students have never voted before– here is Tom being shown how to fill out the ballot paper

Maisy urges more young people to vote and thinks that the UK should follow the example of other European countries such as Luxembourg and Cyprus, who enforce compulsory voting; “This is the first time that I have been able to vote and I am definitely going to vote remain. This decision is massive and affects us all – it’s such a shame that so many people waste their votes.”

 

One of the main talking points surrounding the EU debate is immigration and after doing her research Tiri, Chair of our Student Representative Group, states “26% of NHS doctors are foreign. Immigrants give more to the economy than they take – they are 60% less likely to claim benefits than a British born person.” Another hot topic is economy and trade where Erin, who wants to remain in the EU, says “Are we going to have to lower our standards to be more competitive if we leave the EU?”

 

So far, in all the RNC debates, students (and staff) who have already made up their minds are overwhelmingly in favour of remaining in the EU. There are still some, like George, who are undecided “I love a good debate and it’s been really interesting to hear everyone’s point of view but I might just make my mind up on the day.” Whether you want to leave or to remain in the EU – please remember that every vote counts so make sure you turn up and vote!

 

If you are interested in finding out more about RNC, please call us on 01432 376 621 or email info@rnc.ac.uk

 

Article written by Bik Lee, Digital Media Officer at RNC