Leicestershire Cares has today published the findings of a rapid participatory assessment of the impact that the Covid19 pandemic, lockdown and social distancing restrictions are having on vulnerable young people in Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland.
Our Children and Young People team consulted with 28 young people from across our youth projects to explore how the lockdown was affecting them, the challenges they are facing, the support they had found useful and their concerns as the lockdown eases.
The assessment found that the lockdown is having a significant impact on young people’s mental health and emotional wellbeing. Social isolation was a key challenge for our participants, many of whom live alone and have had little contact with others for over eight weeks. Single young parents with small children were finding the lockdown particularly stressful and were struggling to manage their own health and wellbeing alongside that of their children.
However, some participants identified positive outcomes arising from the lockdown, including the opportunity to learn new skills, be creative and a newfound appreciation for their health, friends and family. This was supported by online activities run by Leicestershire Cares which had helped them maintain their mental health and wellbeing, learn new skills (such as cooking) and keep in contact with one another during the lockdown.
As well as discussing their immediate needs, young people reported a range of concerns for the remainder of the lockdown and beyond. These included getting into work, continuing to buy essentials, having to use public transport, and overcoming the negative impact on their mental health. In terms of the support needed in the coming weeks, young people highlighted a need for help with mental health and wellbeing, overcoming social isolation and staying safe as restrictions ease.
Charlotte Robey-Turner, Head of Children and Young People at Leicestershire Cares, said:
“This week is Mental Health Awareness Week, and this report adds to the growing evidence that shows the hugely negative impact the lockdown and pandemic more widely is having on the mental health and wellbeing of young people in Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland. Much of the focus in the media has been – quite rightly – on the isolation of elderly people in this crisis, but many vulnerable young people are living alone with no family or wider support network to help them and are reliant on youth projects for support.
“Our assessment shows that Covid19 will have long-lasting impacts on vulnerable young people. Now more than ever, these young people need the support of organisations like Leicestershire Cares to help them overcome the challenges posed by the pandemic, regain their sense of ‘normality’ and re-engage with their local communities.”