As the President of a Students’ Union, I have the privilege of representing thousands of young people every day. This can be a challenging time as my generation aim to combine our studies and getting a good degree with meeting new friends, gaining work experience, and developing crucial life skills, all while taking decisions which will shape the rest of our lives. Student life is fun, rewarding but often quite stressful too!
From my experience, young people tend to crave the culture of large cities and the opportunity available to them. Cities offer a vibrant and bustling lifestyle which can keep oneself occupied. The general availability of amenities such as supermarkets, shops, clubs, bars, venues, and availability of potential employment means that young adults don’t have to live heavily planned lifestyles. This is very appealing to a generation reared on spontaneity.
If you want to go to a nightclub? You can because there’s more clubs than you can shake a stick at.
Forgot to stock up on groceries? No worries, you can pop round the nearest supermarket that opens 24/7.
Need to travel late at night? Transport will usually operate late into the night with efficiency. One of the appeals of city life is also the fact that public transport is usually better and readily available which makes you less reliant on a car.
I also think that with people from smaller towns, there tends to be a desire to go somewhere busier, more exciting, more amazing.
The culture of cities is also more vibrant and allows for a variety of different experiences. You can visit numerous vegan shops and cafes, or perhaps go to a world-foods market, and so on.
Gloucestershire is a wonderful place, and the University of Gloucestershire a truly fantastic University. I wouldn’t swap my time here for any other university, any other place. But could we honestly say that any of the above is true here? Is Gloucestershire appealing to young people? Not overly, no. The proof is there. Each year we lose 400 young people to other areas.
Rural living (even the centre of Gloucester is quite rural compared to Bristol!) can be quiet and uneventful. You’ll be far away from nightclubs or bustling cultural centres.
Gloucestershire 2050, quite uniquely, is looking at these problems for the long-term. Lack of affordable homes, poor transport infrastructure, lack of entertainment (outside of the Student’s Union – which is great!), a haemorrhaging of young talent to cities are all being considered.
Would having Gloucester and Cheltenham working closer together, driving forward exciting projects, improving transport links, bringing investment and jobs be attractive to younger people – yes it would! Do we need somewhere to live? Yes we do! Are we passionate about Gloucestershire’s future? You bet we are.
I am encouraging everyone in my generation to submit their views to the consultation. I certainly have given them my thoughts. I want Gloucestershire to remain the beautiful, unique place that it is but I also recognise that retaining its charms is not the same as avoiding change. So, the more young voices that speak up for our future the better we can make: get onto glos2050.com and complete the survey to give your views!
Vicki Hatton, Students’ Union President
University of Gloucestershire