Beat The Brexit Blues With Hope

By Zoe Craig Last edited 34 months ago
Beat The Brexit Blues With Hope
Stop Hate by Andy Worthington via the Londonist flickrpool

A fortnight has passed since the EU referendum result and it's been a very strange period.

The last 14 days have been a shitstorm of various negative events: economic turmoil, political screw-ups, racist attacks, protest marches.

It can leave the individual Londoner with the feeling of being overwhelmed.

Don't let it get you down. There are plenty of things to do that will enable you to channel those post-Brexit feelings into something positive. Here's a few suggestions:

1. Join a Political Party

What? Join those guys? The liars and the cheats and the charlatans?

Well, yes. We can't sit around moaning about how the elites in Westminster are ignoring our interests, when frankly, we spend most of our time ignoring them.

Our political system may be flawed, but it's the only system we have. To have an effect, any effect, we need to be in that system, working from the inside.

Membership costs vary: the basic price for the Labour Party starts at £3.92 a month; the Tories offer membership for £25; and the Lib Dems for £12 a year. And if you're young, you can get some really good deals: 20-26 year olds can pay a pound a month to Labour; the Tories ask for £5 a year for under 23s; students can join the Lib Dems for £1 for the first year.

Londoner Pam Hall told us her experience: "I joined the Labour Party immediately after the last general election. I was shocked and disappointed at the outcome.

"I've never been very involved in politics, but I felt strongly that as a lifelong Labour voter, I should stand up and be counted.

Pam Hall joined the Labour Party after the last election.

"Since I joined, I've been more open to discussing political issues. I get regular messages from the Labour Party, so I'm clearer on what decisions are being made and why. I haven't been out campaigning yet, but I have met my local MP.

"After the General Election and again since the EU Referendum, I've wondered whether the outcome might have been different if more ordinary, not-very-political people had been talking to their friends and families about their view."

2. Support a Campaigning Organisation

But I've already clicked on those online petitions; isn't that enough?

The m.o. for 'pissed off public' in 2016 is clicking on a link. But in reality, all you're doing it adding to the echo chamber of social media.

Instead, now might be the time to lend your support to the slightly old-fashioned campaigning organisations. Unlike social media, many of them have been around for a while; in that time, they've garnered skills and expertise about how work inside the system.

Whether you're worried about how leaving the EU will affect TTIP, women's rights, workers' rights, racism, poverty, the environment or social justice, you'll find there's a well-established, hard-working organisation working on that. Why not lend your support, so they can continue to do this important work towards change.

3. Volunteer

If you found yourself slightly stunned hearing people airing such utterly divergent views to yourself and your mates in the last few weeks, it's maybe time to take stock.

The fact is: we all need to get out more.

And that's not just talking to people in another department at work or in the lift. The best way to stretch your horizons, meet (very) different people, and do some good, is by volunteering.

Hayley Smith volunteers to provide free sanitary products to homeless women in London, and says, "Volunteering has not only boosted my happiness levels and self-esteem, but it has given me great experiences.

"I have met people from all walks of life, who I wouldn't have met otherwise."

Hayley Smith, volunteer and founder of FlowAid

And volunteering has given Hayley even more opportunities: "Through my work with FlowAid, I am going to do a TEDx Talk this October."  

This being London, the volunteering options open to your are pretty much endless. You can do gardening; clean up the Thames; cheer up older people; increase young people's employment chances; work with unemployed people; support homeless people; help cats; dogs; chickens; fish.

You name it, there's a volunteering group out there waiting to broaden your world view. Who knows where your new experiences might lead?

Don't be the person who, when your kids, nieces and nephews asked what you did PB (post-Brexit) say, 'Well, I shared loads of hilarious memes...'

Thanks to Simon Williams whose writing helped inspire this post.

Last Updated 08 July 2016