Young people call for UK to stay in Europe, says latest YMCA survey

17 February 2016

Almost three quarters of young people want to stay in the European Union, according to research from the largest youth charity in the world, YMCA.

A total of 72% of 2,005 16 to 24-year-olds polled across England and Wales said the UK should remain in the EU when voters go to the polls this year. Just 11% said they were in favour of ‘Brexit’.

This is at odds with survey findings from across all age groups combined, with the latest poll of polls showing the predicted referendum result being too close to call.

In addition, stats also show that the majority of young people were in favour of remaining a member of the EU across all regions of England and Wales (with at least 65% support in each region). Even after taking out those aged 16 and 17-years-old – who would, therefore, not be eligible to vote – the result is still 72% in favour.

Denise Hatton, Chief Executive of YMCA England, the national council of YMCAs, said: “Despite statistics showing that young people are less likely to vote than ever before, this survey shows that, not only do they care about politics, but also that they care strongly about the future of the UK in Europe.

“It is young people who will be affected most by the vote to stay in or leave the EU and our findings clearly show they would favour a ‘yes’ vote.

“It is all too easy for decision makers to perceive young people as being disengaged from politics but the 16 to 24-year-olds we spoke to showed this is far from the truth.

“What’s more, given the impact this vote will have on their futures and with such strong opinions on the issue, it is interesting to see how engaged 16 and 17-year-olds were in the referendum, with only 15% offering no personal insight into the EU vote.

“This is an important debate and it is essential that, through all the noise, young people’s voices are still heard.”

YMCA’s results were part of a wider YMCA survey of 2,005 young people. Fieldwork was conducted across January and February 2016 by YouthSight, the specialist youth research agency.

For more information on YMCA England, visit www.ymca.org.uk


For more information, please contact Andrew Mortimer, Communications Manager, at andrew.mortimer@england.ymca.org.uk or call 020 7186 9543.

Notes to editors​ – YMCA

  • Founded in 1844, YMCA in England is made up of member YMCAs across England and Wales working to ensure that young people have opportunities to thrive and contribute positively to their communities.
  • YMCA operates in over 530 different communities in England and Wales impacting upon the lives of over 600,000 people every year.
  • YMCAs provide almost 10,000 beds for young people every night. YMCA is the largest voluntary sector provider of safe, supported accommodation for young men and women.
  • YMCA enables nearly 43,000 people every year to engage in education, skills and training to enable them to improve their opportunities in the job market.
  • YMCA is the largest voluntary sector provider of health and wellbeing services promoting physical activity.

Notes to editors – about our survey

These results form part of a wider piece of YMCA research looking at young people’s views on key public policy issues. The fieldwork for this research was conducted by YouthSight, the specialist youth research agency, between 29 January and 5 February 2016. The sample consisted of 2,005 interviews with young people between 16 and 24-years-old in England and Wales.

The question:

Should the United Kingdom remain a member of the European Union? (n=2,005)

Yes – 72% (n = 1,438)

No – 11% (n = 216)

Undecided – 18% (n = 351)*

*Percentages are rounded to the nearest decimal place.

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