We are now several months into the coronavirus pandemic and nine weeks into lockdown, yet still rarely do we hear about how children and young people are experiencing this crisis.
Understandably the initial focus of the media and politicians has been on those most at risk and those on the front line responding to the crisis, like the NHS. However, we have almost entirely heard from adults about adults, for example the impact on jobs, the self-employed and parents.
“What is life like for young people right now? What will the impact be on this generation of young people, who are already bearing the brunt of a decade of austerity?”
As researchers, we are keen to understand how young people are experiencing the pandemic.
It is impossible to make predictions about longer-term outcomes and it would be wrong to rush to quick conclusions. However, it is at least feasible, that young adults will be experiencing now, and will face in the future, negative and particular impacts on their social (The Guardian, 2020), economic (IFS, 2020) and psychological welfare (Oxford University, 2020).
After a decade of austerity, young people continue to experience increasing insecurity and inequality in their transition to adulthood. But what will the impacts of the COVID-19 crisis be on young people’s transitions and how will these interact with pre-existing inequalities?
We are researchers at Durham University and the University of Huddersfield and are concerned that the views and experiences of young people have largely been missing from the main coverage of the Coronavirus crisis. Because of this, we are running a research study to collect and explore the experiences and voices of young people in the North East during the Coronavirus crisis.
We are working with organisations, like Children North East, to explore how the results of the research can be useful for working with young people as we move through this crisis. Policy makers, politicians and those who provide services for young people have a responsibility to consider how to meet the needs of young people now and in the future.
“Over the last decade, young people and young adults have been the worst hit by austerity. So, we can expect that young people will be the worst hit by the Coronavirus crisis now and into the future.”
Early figures support this, suggesting that young people are more likely to work fewer hours and be made unemployed (IFS, 2020) and we are seeing increasing reports of depression and mental health problems (Young Minds, 2020). For young people in the North East, the impacts could be even worse. According to modelling by the Centre for Progressive Policy (CPP, 2020), Middlesbrough is the UK Local Authority where people are most at risk of dying from COVID-19, because of poverty and existing ill health, including amongst young people.
“We need to hear from young people themselves about their experiences and how the crisis is impacting upon them.”
We know from organisations like Children North East that even for those who usually work with young people, such as youth workers, are particularly concerned about young people right now, especially as contact is difficult. Although many are trying to adapt and keep in touch through things like WhatsApp groups, it is difficult to know how young people are experiencing and responding to the current crisis.
How you can take part
Our research involves collecting the accounts of young people using an online survey tool. We are asking young people and young adults, aged 14-30 from across the North East to tell as about how the Coronavirus crisis and lockdown are impacting upon them. Everything they tell us is anonymous and voluntary.
We have created a short online form, which only takes about 5-10 minutes to complete, where young people can write whatever they want about the impact of the crisis on them. We would like to learn about their thoughts and feelings, their education or their job, their housing and financial situations and their relationships with family and friends. Have there been any positive impacts and what has been the worst thing about this crisis for them?
If you are aged 14-30 and living in the North East, we would really like to hear from you. You can access the form here
Centre for Progressive Policy (2020, 6th May) ‘COVID-19 local area health risk rating’
The Guardian (2020, 18th March) ‘Fears ‘lockdown parties’ will increase global spread of coronavirus’,
Oxford University (2020) ‘COVID-19’s impact on youth mental health the focus of new research’
Young Minds (2020) ‘Coronavirus: Impact on Young People with Mental Health Needs’
For further information, contact:
Dr Hannah King
Department of Sociology, Durham University