I don’t know what long term impact COVID-19 will have upon our young people, but there is a lot we can do now to make a difference in the years ahead. Perhaps the most important one is to listen and hear what young people have to say.
I, like many, had fallen into the trap of mistakenly assuming that young people have never had it so good. But the more I listen the more I realise that the pressures on young people across the socioeconomic spectrum are real. Their concerns extend to diet and nutrition, access to technology, poverty, pressures of 24 hour social networking, employment opportunities, pressures of materialism, inequality, the environment, animal welfare, gender identity, family problems, bullying, social mobility, mental health, body image, exploitation, sexual orientation, negative stereotyping, sexual abuse, lack of affordable housing, aspirations and substance abuse. The problem is not generic, neither, therefore, can the solution be.
As a starter, I believe the three things that young people need the most are:
- Not to be told what they need;
- To be given a voice to inform society about what they do need;
- For society to listen and build an environment where young people can feel empowered and are free to make their own choices without prejudice.
The brain is like a ploughed field, the farmer can plant whatever they want, the field does not care. A goal is the seed a young person plants in their brain, their brain will grow it. We are building a remote volunteering programme for volunteers that want to listen to young people and commit to supporting them with an open mind. If you have ideas that will help us make this exceptional then please reach out, I’m listening.