UK Youth launches new report

The impact of COVID-19 in young people & the youth sector

Between 20-27 March 2020, UK Youth surveyed the needs of the youth sector and young people in the wake of COVID-19, and potential long-term impact. To ensure a diversity of perspectives from youth and community organisations that work with young people across the UK, we reached out to the UK Youth Movement and asked them to also share with their networks. The respondents of the survey represent the breadth and diversity of the youth sector. 252 respondents, representing 235 organisations, including network, membership and infrastructure organisations that further represent another 1,848 organisations completed the survey.

The impact for young people
“We are so worried for our young people. They are already a very marginalised and isolated group and now that has intensified greatly. Many exist in unhappy homes with little chance for escape or support. With the whole nation now being told to stay at home these young people are left trapped with the people they are desperate to escape from and even less able to be who they are.” -Mermaids charity

In order to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and protect the most vulnerable, the Government has put in place the biggest public health measures during peacetime. Without a doubt, whilst this has to be the priority, the impact this will have on young people is likely to be intense and long lasting, especially for the most vulnerable. Feedback from the UK Youth Movement predicts that the impact onyoung people will include the following, ranked by order of importance (based on number of responses).

1. Increased mental health or wellbeing concerns
2. Increased loneliness and isolation
3. Lack of safe space – including not being able to access their youth club/ service and lack of safe spaces at home
4. Challenging family relationships
5. Lack of trusted relationships or someone to turn to
6. Increased social media or online pressure
7. Higher risk for engaging in gangs, substance misuse, carrying weapons or other harmful practices
8. Higher risk for sexual exploitation or grooming

Members of UK Youth Voice, our national youth advisory group, corroborated our survey results. They reflected on and highlighted some of the concerns young people have for the future, such as the longterm effects of isolation on wellbeing and mental health, and uncertainty about employment.

“So many people are reading the news all day as we are just at home, some of it is fake news and we’re getting so scared, some people I know are having panic attacks. We’re trying to figure out how to stay safe while still staying mentally healthy, Depression is going to go up during this outbreak you don’t realise it’s here until it’s too late.”

“Not everyone has a family to support them through this. Lots of people’s friends are their family and now they can’t see them at all, only online. People will be feeling so isolated more than they
have ever done before.”

“Young people are facing many worries and challenges at this time. Some of us are on zero hours contracts and are losing jobs or their work has closed so they have zero income, and no-one is around to tell you what’s happening and help you understand it at all. Many people rely on jobs as an escape from my home life, especially me, and I have been so eager to go to work. Me myself, I have zero knowledge if my work will ever open again, it could be back to square one in
the job hunt, which will be soul destroying for me.”

Read the full report here.

4th May 2020