CORONAVIRUS RESPONSE2020-12-11T12:05:04+00:00



Diversity in the NHS

Diversity in the NHS The coronavirus pandemic has exposed our health inequalities - but what can the NHS do to work with communities and young people? #iwill Ambassador Gabrielle Mathews has seen all sides of the NHS. She has been a long-term patient, a medical student, a Youth Forum Member, a volunteer, and now sits on the NHS Assembly. In this challenging blog, she reflects on why community and youth engagement is so important, and considers how engagement can be most successful. Read More

A Perspective from a 15 Year Old

A perspective from a 15 year old Rebecca, Age 15, BiteBack Youth Board Member At 15 years old, the 20th of March 2020 was my last day in secondary education; almost 100 days early. The school doors were shut that night as I along with the rest of the nations year 11s and year 13s were left with our vital qualifications (GCSEs and A-levels) up in the air and yet despite an atmosphere of tension frustration and fear looming over many, it was ultimately a unanimously accepted decision that putting our health and the health of others first was the only choice that could have been made. On that day we trusted our government with the course of our lives because each one of us understood the importance of putting health first and the urgency that was needed to keep the country safe. Now, weeks on and we have all begun asking ourselves, what legacy do we want to leave on this world? Read More

Categories: Be Heard, Coronavirus Views, Education|

Making the coronavirus guidance youth-friendly

Making the GOV.UK guidance youth friendly Living through a global pandemic is something new for all of us, and it’s equally as scary too. It’s important we all have resources we can turn to, helping us to cope and change our lives accordingly within this period. But the general guidance written isn’t always suitable for young people. Sometimes the language can be difficult to understand, like the use of new jargon words, or it might not mention things that are important to us as young people.  That’s why PHE brought together a group of eight youth representatives (including  us), who have extensive personal experiences of the health system in the UK, to shape new guidance which is easier for young people living through the coronavirus pandemic to understand.  Read More

Categories: Be Heard, Coronavirus Views, Health and Wellbeing|

Keir Starmer joins national conversation with young people

Keir Starmer joins national conversation with young people Earlier this month we kicked off the #PowerOfYouth national conversation - a nationwide collaborative effort aiming to recognise young people for their efforts and sacrifices since lockdown began, empower more young people to make a difference, and give young people opportunities to shape the future.  It is a crucial time for these conversations to be happening. Young people face marked challenges – young workers are the most likely to have lost work, a third of pupils are not engaging with school work, and young people are more likely than any other age group to report deteriorating mental health. Young people, whose voices have been prominent in Black Lives Matter activism, are also demanding that national leadership commit to eradicating racism. As part of this effort, on 24th June, Leader of the Opposition Sir Keir Starmer joined a Quarantine Question Time event for young people - co-organised by the #iwill campaign, My Life My Say and UK Youth. He emphasised the importance of meaningfully engaging young people, saying: “I don't want a Labour Party that just says things about young people, I want the Labour Party that has young people in it saying what they think. [...] We cannot go back to business as usual after this.  We have to go on to something better. Young people are so important, in a sense it's your future more than anybody else's future, you [...]

Sexual Health Week: Getting the information we need

Sexual Health Week 2020: Getting the information we need Sexual health week is run by #iwill partner Brook, the UK's leading sexual health and wellbeing charity for young people. This week is focused on "Get your RSE in gear!", all about making sure young people are getting the quality sexual health and relationships education they need. In our feature for #SHW20, we share reflections from #iwill Ambassador Joana on current RSE provision, as well as the latest updates to the government's social distancing guidance for young people in England.  Why are young people, particularly girls and young women, still so let down by sex ed? "Sexual health is a taboo subject. In schools, we are taught the barebones of reproduction, sexual health and menstruation. In my experience, boys and men are still incredibly uncomfortable at any mention of the word ‘period’, and I would be lying if I hadn’t had conversations with a number of women explaining to them that condoms are to prevent STDs as much as they are for contraception. In failing to teach young adults - most of whom inevitably will at some point get tangled up in the world of sexual relationships (whether that be discovering they do or don’t enjoy them) - we are relying on them to magically teach themselves this essential knowledge, and then blaming them when things go wrong. This is much like the conversation we have seen around coronavirus, where young people are [...]

Government must engage us on health

In this crisis, government must engage with young people about our health Harry, age 19  I am not representative of all young people. Often, we hear the category of ‘young people’ used to describe all 19,760,000 people under the age of twenty-five who are currently living in the UK. I want to challenge that idea. If there’s one thing that you take away from this post, let it be these next few words: young people are not all the same. We each have our own needs, and as a result we need different types of support. So, why am I telling you this? Well, while I may be able to largely manage my anxieties and fears, the reality for many young people is that they cannot. Between March 20th (when schools closed) and March 25th (when restrictions were tightened), Young Minds found that 83% of young people said their mental health had worsened as a result of the Coronavirus crisis. While this may be in part down to the loss of routine and lack of face-to-face contact, a lack of clear, public health messaging aimed at children and young people must be considered as a contributing factor too.  Read More

Categories: Be Heard, Coronavirus Views, Health and Wellbeing|

Lessons from COVID-19 about disability

What the COVID-19 crisis teaches us about the place for disability in society Charli, age 19  COVID-19 is making an impact across all of our daily lives - but for me, as a disabled and chronically ill young person, some of these challenges are already familiar. As an activist, I am fighting for better communication and support for disabled people, both during this crisis and in the future.  For many disabled people, traditional education and work places are not spaces we fit. When asking for accommodations like working from home, it is seen as an inconvenience, and we are told they aren’t possible.  Yet when COVID-19 began, it took only days for companies and universities to move online and to adapt imaginatively to using new digital tools. While welcome, I can’t say I didn’t feel frustrated that this was suddenly possible.  We shouldn’t let healthcare, schools and workplaces say they can’t facilitate these accommodations once the crisis is over, just because able-bodied people are back to life as normal. Read More

Categories: Be Heard, Coronavirus Views, Tackling Inequalities|

The greatest educational inequality is the loss of hope

The greatest inequality in education is the loss of hope #iwill Ambassador Adam explores how schools, and society, must adapt to support the students who have been let down during the pandemic. In the many months since the first closures of schools in the UK, much has changed. For some, vast online systems of integrated, interactive learning rose to meet the challenge. Innovation has shown us the demonstrable strength of a community when united towards one goal - our future generation. For others, the present and future appeared bleak. No systems. No learning. Just them, hopefully a laptop, maybe some wifi, and a google classroom. This resource gap made an already existing inequality even more apparent: 60% of private schools in affluent areas have access to online learning, compared to 23% from deprived state schools.  The purpose of education is a diverse one, but a strong contender would certainly be around developing active citizens, with the character strengths and skills to enter the wider world and workplace. It should stand with no controversy, then, to claim that any education must first help the most disadvantaged. It is the most disadvantaged that are vulnerable to losing self-belief and resilience when faced with an almost insurmountable hill to climb. It is the most disadvantaged that stand alone in freely navigating the world of further education and work. In a pandemic, these challenges are not only realised but made worse. Families that already struggled have less money, and children [...]

Deciding the Fate of the Earth

Deciding the Fate of the Earth Esther, Age 14 By being trapped inside, are we more appreciative of the world around us? If we go back into the world in the months and years to come, when hopefully our society has somewhat recovered from the devastation we are experiencing and facing, with this consciousness about the environment, perhaps we will all, including myself, try just a little bit harder to protect this beautiful planet.  This is why this is such an important time. What we choose to do right now and in the near future will, more than ever, help decide the fate of the Earth, for better or for worse. Maybe stepping back is ultimately what we needed, even if the reason we have to is absolutely awful. We needed to gain a new perspective on what we are doing and also regain a love for the Earth that lies around us. Read More

Categories: Be Heard, Coronavirus Views, Environment|

Get your MP to stand up for young people

Get your MP to stand up for young people The coronavirus pandemic has caused huge challenges for young people. Schools have been closed and exams cancelled. Young people have lost their jobs. Young carers are working hard to look after their families, without support. Young people are struggling with their mental health. Lots of young people are feeling anxious, and don't know what the future holds. Since the coronavirus pandemic started, the Prime Minister and his ministers have had daily press briefings. While these have addressed issues such as protective equipment for NHS staff, and economic support for businesses - as just two examples - so far no briefings have spoken directly to children and young people, or taken their questions. As the press briefings are now going to stop being daily, it may be even less likely that a youth press briefing will be held. Other countries are leading the way on this. Nicola Sturgeon, First Minister of Scotland, has held more than one event taking questions from young people. New Zealand and Norway have done the same. Just this week, the Welsh Education Minister received questions from the children of Wales. Nearly two months ago, 90 leaders and 150 youth representatives wrote to the Prime Minister to ask for a youth press conference, but he has not yet committed to holding one. That's why we are asking young people across the country to write to your MP. Your MP can put their [...]

Categories: Be Heard, Coronavirus Views|
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