Leicestershire Cares has today published the findings of a rapid participatory assessment of the impact that the local lockdown restrictions are having on vulnerable young people in Leicester and affected parts of Leicestershire.
Building on our report about the impact of the national lockdown, our Children and Young People team consulted with 22 young people from across our youth projects to explore how the local lockdown was affecting them, whether and how this was different to the national lockdown, the support they had found useful and their concerns as the lockdown eases.
Our findings suggest that the local lockdown has had an even greater impact on young people’s mental health and feelings of isolation, and have led us to make three key recommendations:
1.Young people need urgent interventions to improve their mental health and wellbeing and reduce their social isolation
The ban on non-essential travel across the boundary of the lockdown area has meant that young people feel more isolated than before. Feelings of isolation and poor mental health have been made more acute by the knowledge that people in the rest of the country are easing out of the national lockdown and are starting to engage in more social and leisure activities. Young people urgently need support from youth and community services and organisations to help them engage in positive activities which improve their mental health and enable them to socialise safely with others.
2. Young people need clearer guidance on the current restrictions
Young people’s confusion and anxiety about the current rules are concerning. Without clearer messaging reaching all communities across the affected area, there is a real risk that young people and other residents do not follow the restrictions, which will result in an extension of the local lockdown and further challenges arising. The City Council needs to do more to ensure that all young people are aware of and able to follow safety guidance. It is also important that any changes are communicated quickly and effectively across the affected areas.
3. Other areas need to prepare for the impact of a local lockdown on vulnerable young people
Leicester will not be the only city that experiences a local lockdown. Other areas of the country have already been identified as having high rates of infections, and are at risk of being subject to localised restrictions. The findings of this report should be used by local authorities, youth services and support organisations in other areas which experience local restrictions in the coming months, to enable them to plan and implement effective support at the outset of a local lockdown.
Charlotte Robey-Turner, Head of Children and Young People at Leicestershire Cares, said:
“The local lockdown has created huge challenges for affected residents in Leicester and Leicestershire, not least our vulnerable young people. Our report shows that the already significant impacts of the national lockdown on young people’s mental health and social isolation are further exacerbated when local restrictions are implemented. There is a real sense of young people feeling left behind, isolated and lacking much needed support because of restrictions on travel and socialising, while the rest of the country are returning to a ‘new normal’.
“Our report shows the impact of implementing local restrictions which have prevented the easing of the lockdown in Leicester. If other areas enter a local lockdown following a period where residents are able to shop, socialise and travel more freely, the negative impacts on residents are likely to be even more significant. We urge local authorities and youth organisations in other high-risk areas to learn from our experience and plan ahead, so they can mitigate the negative impacts of a local lockdown on their vulnerable young people.”