Why the minutes and the months matter most to young people during the COVID-19 crisis

_youth

(Credit: Unsplash)

This article is brought to you thanks to the collaboration of The European Sting with the World Economic Forum.

Author: Rory Daniels, Global Shaper, London Hub,


  • Vulnerable young people will need the most urgent support during and after the pandemic.
  • Economic insecurity and the educational fallout will affect many more for years to come.
  • Here’s what policy-makers should focus on to minimise the harms being done to young people.

The UK is now emerging slowly from a lockdown that began on 23 March. After 10 weeks of lockdown extensions, one could almost be forgiven for thinking that this crisis is one in which citizens are living week-to-week, simply going about their normal lives for six days and then pausing for reflection on the seventh.

 

In reality, however, very few possess this luxury. For countless young people across both London and the UK as a whole, it is the minutes and the months that matter most during the COVID-19 crisis.

The minutes

Even though lockdown restrictions are increasingly eased, the same cannot be said for the pressures facing youth mental health services. It is vulnerable young people, particularly those most at risk from what The National Youth Agency (NYA) labels the ‘toxic trio’ of addiction, mental health issues and domestic abuse, who will require the most substantial and pressing support during the pandemic. In an emergency situation, this support will need to be accessible within minutes, not weeks (or worse). Unfortunately, the 2007/8 global financial crisis has left state-provided mental health services severely under-funded and plagued by endless waiting lists. The recent addition of increased demand and rising worker illnesses have only exacerbated these issues.

Even more worrying is the scale of this challenge. Charities have identified over one million young people who will be “at risk at home” during lockdown, whilst a recent NYA report found that 84% of young people have reported “worse mental health problems following school closures or due to not being able to access mental health support”.

The minutes will also matter for young people facing economic insecurity. Many do not have the luxury of waiting three weeks to secure their next paycheck, with a staggering 36% of 15-to-24-year olds across London regularly slipping into poverty after paying their housing costs. The corresponding figure for the whole of England is 26%. This is compounded by the fact that it is young people who are disproportionately affected by joblessness due to COVID-19. The Resolution Foundation, a think tank focused on improving the standard of living for low- and middle-income families, have found that prior to the outbreak, almost 40% of 16-to-24-year olds worked in sectors that are now on lockdown. This rises to over 60% for those born after 2000.

Workers aged 16-24 are twice as likely to work in shutdown sectors as older workers
Workers aged 16-24 are twice as likely to work in shutdown sectors as older workers
Image: Resolution Foundation

The months

Minutes aside, the virus also threatens to affect the lives of young people across the UK for months and years to come. For those in secondary and post-16 education, the indefinite closure of all schools and cancellation of GCSE and A-Level exams has thrown the future of many pupils into great uncertainty. The Prime Minister has stated that all pupils will still “get the qualifications they need for university”, but the government is yet to devise an appropriate way of putting this into practice. Even if school students do manage to make it to university, however, the prospect of a decent education is still under threat. Times Higher Education claims that due to financial uncertainties, many UK universities “could be at risk of permanent closure” with some having already announced plans to limit spending and cut staff. This will only compound the misery of the countless students fighting to reclaim thousands of pounds spent on now-vacated university accommodation.

Those due to leave education will be impacted by the virus too, with many likely to suffer the long-term wage scarring effects associated with entering a decimated labour market. This means years of pay freezes, slim promotion prospects and reduced earnings. Just this month alone, research carried out by The Learning and Work Institute, Youth Futures Foundation and The Resolution Foundation have all concluded that the effects of the UK’s impending recession will disproportionately, negatively, and indefinitely impact young people. The NYA has subsequently warned that ‘unless urgent action is taken to support vulnerable children and young people, whose needs are often unseen, the long-term damage caused will be unimaginable’.

coronavirus, health, COVID19, pandemic

What is the World Economic Forum doing to manage emerging risks from COVID-19?

The first global pandemic in more than 100 years, COVID-19 has spread throughout the world at an unprecedented speed. At the time of writing, 4.5 million cases have been confirmed and more than 300,000 people have died due to the virus.

As countries seek to recover, some of the more long-term economic, business, environmental, societal and technological challenges and opportunities are just beginning to become visible.

To help all stakeholders – communities, governments, businesses and individuals understand the emerging risks and follow-on effects generated by the impact of the coronavirus pandemic, the World Economic Forum, in collaboration with Marsh and McLennan and Zurich Insurance Group, has launched its COVID-19 Risks Outlook: A Preliminary Mapping and its Implications – a companion for decision-makers, building on the Forum’s annual Global Risks Report.

The report reveals that the economic impact of COVID-19 is dominating companies’ risks perceptions.

Companies are invited to join the Forum’s work to help manage the identified emerging risks of COVID-19 across industries to shape a better future. Read the full COVID-19 Risks Outlook: A Preliminary Mapping and its Implications report here, and our impact story with further information.

The measures to take

Whilst the majority of government policies have, quite rightly, so far focused predominantly on saving the lives of older adults, this is not an excuse to disregard the pressing needs of our young population. Therefore, both during and long after the virus, the government must ensure that young people have the short-and long-term security they deserve. Measures could include sending support and resources to those one million young people identified as being ‘at risk at home’, similar to the supermarkets’ grocery delivery initiative for older and vulnerable adults. The government could also introduce schemes that incentivise key industries to employ the 40% of young people previously working in ‘lockdown sectors’. To protect social mobility, universities should be offered attractive loans that will enable them to plan for the future and guarantee adequate funding for both current and prospective students. And as for the decimated labour market, the government should bolster regulations that will prevent the exploitation of ‘low-skilled’ (and often young) workers, such as the National Living Wage, minimum wage, zero-hour contracts, and unpaid internships.

The lockdown period may go on for another 3, 6 or 9 weeks, but young people across the UK are operating on a different clock. The government must act now to address both the short- and long-term social, economic, and educational insecurity plaguing an entire generation. Simply put, it’s the minutes and the months that matter.

the sting Milestone

Featured Stings

Can we feed everyone without unleashing disaster? Read on

These campaigners want to give a quarter of the UK back to nature

How to build a more resilient and inclusive global system

Stopping antimicrobial resistance would cost just USD 2 per person a year

Sexual abuse of elderly likely to ‘grow dramatically’, UN expert says

EU-Vietnam: Council adopts decisions to sign trade and investment agreements

Afghanistan: UN ‘unequivocally condemns’ attack in Kabul

The European Union and Central Asia: New opportunities for a stronger partnership

More than half a million Rohingya in Bangladesh get ID cards for first time: UN refugee agency

MEPs back update of rail passenger rights across EU

This top-10 of business risks misses the biggest of them all: climate change

New UN bullying report calls for ‘safe, inclusive’ schools for all children

To build the workforce of the future, we need to revolutionize how we learn

These are the cities where people work the longest hours

ILO: Progress on gender equality at work remains inadequate

ECB to support only banks not Peoples

The remote doctor in the 21st century

Quality Education on the table at the European Parliament

EU budget 2021-2027: Commission calls on leaders to set out a roadmap towards an autumn agreement

UN-backed intercultural dialogue forum urged to keep working to ‘bridge gap between the like-minded’

Schools must look to the future when connecting students to the internet

Yemen: UN Envoy ‘guilty’ of optimistic hope that war is ‘nearing the end’

How public private partnerships must evolve to create social impact

The EU Commission openly repudiates the austere economic policies

How one traumatised child survived genocide and started a movement for mental health

Take medical use of cannabis seriously, say MEPs

‘Save Tuvalu; save the world’; UN chief echoes rallying cry from front lines of global climate emergency

INTERVIEW: Poverty, education and inclusion top new General Assembly President’s priority list

Mediterranean migrant drownings should spur greater action by European countries, urge UN agencies

Is Europe misjudging its abilities to endure more austerity and unemployment?

France sneaks into the Geneva US-Iran talks to claim its business share in Tehran

During the coronavirus pandemic, we must fight for LGBTQ rights more than ever

Here’s how China is going green

‘Critical’ window of opportunity closing fast in Iraq, Security Council hears

COVID-19: How leaders can create a new and better normal

Businesses are thriving, societies are not. Time for urgent change

EU makes key TTIP document public as protests get louder

This is how New York plans to end its car culture

How smart tech helps cities fight terrorism and crime

Effective multilateralism the antidote to today’s ‘divisions’, Holy See tells UN Assembly

Building an Inclusive ICT Innovation Ecosystem

Stability in Europe has no chances because of Ukraine

Venezuelan exodus to Ecuador reaches record levels: UN refugee agency steps up aid

Indonesia is buzzing with entrepreneurial spirit. And others in ASEAN aren’t far behind

Crime and drugs in West and Central Africa: Security Council highlights ‘new alarming trends’

UN warns of ‘deteriorating climate’ for human rights defenders in Guatemala

EU and India re-open talks over strategic partnership while prepare for a Free Trade Agreement

Your smartphone may know more about your mental health than you

‘Air bridge’ vaccination operation begins for Ebola-hit communities in DR Congo

Thursday’s Daily Brief: Poverty report reveals ‘vast inequalities’, measles compounds DRC Ebola woes, Guterres visits Mozambique, Bangladesh update, freedom of expression online

FROM THE FIELD: facing up to the extreme mental health pressures of conflict

Those who produce food are among world’s hungriest – UN rights expert

Economy on a steady rise in Latin America and Caribbean region ‘despite international turbulence’ – UN report

Parliament adopts new rules for short-stay visas

Britain’s poet laureate has created a prize to highlight poetry about the climate crisis

Collective action now, the only way to meet global challenges, Guterres reaffirms in annual report

UN experts warn Assange arrest exposes him to risk of serious human rights violations

MEPs adopt new Fisheries Partnership with Morocco including Western Sahara

Guinea President Alpha Condé: “We must tackle the root causes of migration”

Migrants: ‘A powerful driver’ of economic growth, ‘dynamism and understanding’

MWC 2016 LIVE: Mobile Connect availability hits 2B

Commission reports on the risks of investor citizenship and residence schemes in the EU and outlines steps to address them

How to build a paradise for women. A lesson from Iceland

Iran: BBC and other broadcast journalists harassed; families threatened – UN experts

More Stings?

Advertising

Speak your Mind Here

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s