Supporting Generation COVID
17 September 2021
The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic has been huge and has affected most people across society. But the combination of negative economic, social, education and work consequences for young people has led to the term “Generation COVID” being specially coined to define the 18-24 year olds in society.
Young people account for a high percentage of hospitality, leisure and retail workers, and many have struggled to secure a job or stay in work. Between March 2020 and April 2021, the number of 18-24 year olds claiming Universal Credit rose by 114%, which is the largest rise for any age group during the same time period.
The Resolution Foundation reported its findings at the end of August that 1 in 5 18-24 year olds are worried about what the loss of hours, pay and progression will mean for their mental health, and 1 in 4 are worried that their mental health will affect their ability to find a job in the future.
YouthNgage is firmly focussed on addressing these issues and positively engaging young people across Kent in the community. As Yetunde, Project Director explains “We run mentoring opportunities, organise shadowing programmes, create work experience placements and traineeship services for the young people we support.” Recognising the importance of bringing young people together in a positive and safe space, supporting their mental health, they also run workshops such as soap making, baking and sewing for young people to learn additional key life skills.
Throughout the pandemic, YouthNgage ran online courses which were taught by their youth leaders who they trained and supported. In July and August 8 of the young people they were supporting managed to secure employment and become more independent. YouthNgage have been able to give out PPE, period products, clothing, toiletries such as dental and hair products to the young people they support, helping them participate in activities and feel confident in their new work roles.
RJ4All, based in Rotherhithe, a deprived part of South East London, enabled young people to build on youth-led campaign work and mobilise very quickly after lockdown to set up an online forum and helpline, run by trained young people. “Our belief in the importance of giving young people the skills and knowledge to become more resilient when it comes to hardship and adversity has never been more relevant.” explained Theo Gavrielides, RJ4All Founder & Director. They are currently running a Youth Awards scheme to celebrate the values of solidarity, companionship, and resilience that young people have shown this year.
Using Sport England Girls Can funding they were able to open online classes. With the recent re-opening of their community centre (pictured) they were able to run a youth event and have stocked up on stationery, antibacterial disinfectant and bathroom cleaner from In Kind Direct ahead of opening the doors to art and cultural workshops and face to face counselling.