We asked our youth group, the Student LSCP about their experience of the pandemic and lockdown. The Student LSCP are a group of young people who have volunteered to provide a young person’s voice and opinion to the work of the Leeds Safeguarding Children Partnership.
The group have always met on a weekly basis. Due to the COVID-19 lockdown they decided to move their weekly sessions to a virtual environment through group chat, as the group members were still keen to continue their work with the LSCP and to assist in helping to safeguard the children and young people of Leeds during this challenging time.
Discussions in the group chat sessions focused on understanding how young people are experiencing lockdown due to COVID 19 and what, as a partnership we could do to support them. The LSCP chair, Jasvinder Sanghera, CBE, also participated in the group chat with the young people, as she felt it was important to find out, first hand, how the young people were experiencing lockdown.
The group chat functionality gave the young people the option of video or audio chat, as well as a chat box to place comments and questions.
Here are their responses to the questions:
What's been your experience of lockdown?
- Not seeing and meeting friends has been difficult
- Being able to take a walk and exercise is key
- The time at home has resulted in talking to parents more “even played monopoly with my dad’
- They had all become more interested in the news
- “I think people will become more tech savvy, as my grand-dad called me at 10pm last night."
How are you finding home studying?
- Motivation at home is very different and at times “just killing time”
- College offer virtual assignments online and tutors are available from 8.30-4.30pm and this is helpful because they are actually more available, but it is not the same as being in a classroom.The ‘banter is different.’
- Sometimes get bored and “need things to do”
- Hearing that there has been an increase in alcohol and drugs being used. “Lockdown doesn't stop people going out to buy them.”
Where do you get your information from? Which apps or social media sites are you using?
- Instagram, Tik Tok, Snap Chat and Facebook. They all agreed that social media was key and always had been, but more now than ever. “You don’t see so much noise on social media now”
- BBC website
- Local news. They all stated that they had become more interested in the news, especially local news as it applied to where they live and affected them and “my family are glued to the news now.”
- “This time is a prime opportunity for abuse online and this needs to be highlighted.”
What if any are your fears?
- The uncertainty around grades and future studies e.g. accessing university
- Losing family members
- Loneliness linked to mental health especially for friends. They asked “where can we direct our mates?” We discussed the services that exist locally e.g. The Mindmate website and Chat Health for 11-19-year olds.
- They suggested that people with counselling skills could be volunteer listeners for lonely people
- Concerns about their parents’ jobs being affected by lockdown and how the young people “take on how they feel.”
- Taking on more responsibilities within the family
- Within a conversation on domestic abuse, “young people need to know they are not alone and that they can be safe and get help.”
- More aware of family finance issues.
- Online abuse needs to be highlighted as a potential issue.
What do you think life after lockdown will be like?
- People will be reluctant to be in crowded areas now
- Using social media more “hope people realise this is how we communicate most, its not always about posters.”
- Using local news more to talk to young people “been watching it more now than ever”
- Wanted to volunteer during this time but weren’t aware of opportunities, so be good to hear more about volunteering to encourage personal development
- All talked about mental health issues and how as a group it would be important to continue this conversation beyond COVID 19 as a priority. “Can you ask how mental health information gets out to young people as wording is key for people with depression?”
Has this time changed the way you think?
- All said they definitely have more appreciation of the NHS which they never really thought about before and this would stay with them
- Appreciating being able to go out and will go out more instead of being in the house
- “I feel this virus will create tighter bonds with people."
As a result of these conversations with the Student LSCP, the LSCP have listened and responded by:
- Increasing the promotion of local services for children and young people during the pandemic. E.g. Mindmate, Kooth and Chat Health, a confidential text messaging service that enables children and young people (age 11-19) to contact their local public health school nursing team
- Raising awareness of mental health issues (how to cope with anxiety) and signposted to support as well as raising these concerns to other partners.
- Providing information on volunteering opportunities during Covid 19 as some members of the group wished to volunteer.