FEATURE18 November 2020

Our minds’ eye

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Brexit Features Impact Middle East and Africa Trends UK Youth

In a post-Brexit UK, and to redefine UK-African relations, it is imperative to listen to the voices of young people, research for the British Council’s New Narratives programme found. By Tom Curran.


In late 2019, the British Council tasked M&C Saatchi World Services with identifying dominant and emerging narratives about the UK across the African continent, and about the continent in the UK, at a historical moment when UK-African relations are being radically redefined.

The findings of the research were designed to inform the British Council’s five-year New Narratives programme. This aims to contribute to changing reciprocal perceptions of the countries of Africa and the UK, to stimulate new understanding and unlock connections and collaborations for mutual benefit.

Three challenges defined our approach to the research. First, an early review highlighted the multiple, often conflicting, and vague uses of the term ‘narrative’. In response, we focused on the touchpoints that influence how young people construct stories about the other place. Second, recognising the influence of imagery on young people’s perceptions, we integrated visual data and stimulus throughout the research design. Third, imagery of the UK across Africa was not as abundant ...