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Living through a lockdown: coalition of charities share insights and warnings from young people at risk of youth violence.

September 28th, 2020

Young people at risk of serious youth violence urgently need to be prioritised in planning for future lockdowns and in the long term COVID-19 recovery plan, three UK-wide violence prevention charities have said.

StreetDoctors, Redthread and MAC-UK surveyed young people who use their services to find out how lockdown affected their lives and their communities, and how we as a nation could better support them. The report, Living Through a Lockdown: Reflections and recommendations from young people at risk of serious violence, offers insights into the experiences of some of the UK’s most vulnerable young people, and makes urgent recommendations for local and national leaders.



Young people on living through national lockdown with less support, less safety and increased struggles

It shows that lockdown has left young people at risk of witnessing or being involved with serious violence worried, alone and without the support and safety they desperately need.

  • Over half said their support needs have not been met
  • 66% felt their safety had not improved or had got worse
  • 76% said lockdown had a negative impact on their mental health

In terms of services that are available, 39% mentioned how local counselling or youth workers have been a positive influence during this period. For those who had lost this support the results are more worrying.

“I had a support worker at college. I had a counsellor every week…[not having access is] making me feel very low.”

Young people want to play an active part in their communities – challenging the narrative of ‘Generation Me’

The report highlights that enabling vulnerable young people to take on an active role in their communities will improve safety, connection and access to key services.

The results of the survey challenge the narrative of ‘generation me’ often ascribed to young people, especially those at risk of violence. 39% of the young people surveyed said that during lockdown they were actively involved with their communities: many enjoyed meeting their neighbours for the first time and supporting the key workers by joining with the NHS Clap for carers. Young people did shopping for others or became NHS responders.

“[I would like to see] more opportunities for young people to work or volunteer it would put less stress on jobs and try to keep the community together and make sure they feel safe in their environment.”

When asked what they would like to see from their MP, young people wanted more support given to those who are vulnerable, such as homeless people or asylum seekers.

Facing more restrictions – what decision-makers need to do to make sure young people at risk of violence survive

StreetDoctors, Redthread and MAC-UK warn that as local authorities plan for new lockdown measures, young people must not be forgotten again or the repercussions for children and young people will be severe.

The report’s seven recommendations focus on ensuring local leaders take tangible proactive steps now. Crucially, it recommends consulting young people on how to best communicate new restrictions, and on the potential impact of lockdowns. Other recommendations include ensuring access to services despite new restrictions, creating pathways to active citizenship for young people and supporting local institutions to get ready to step up and be a consistent presence to help keep young people safe.

Chloe, a young person from Nottingham who contributed to the report says 

“My advice to local leaders would be to actually talk to some young people. Don’t talk at them but try to incorporate them in some decisions. These young people are the next generation and their views are going to help mould the future for the better. A fresh view is important to bring around positive change in their communities”

John Poyton OBE, CEO Redthread, says

“While the national lockdown might be over, many communities know restrictions could imminently be imposed at a local level. It’s vital we are ready. This time, it won’t be unprecedented, and all agencies must have plans in place to protect the younger generation.”

Lucie Russell, CEO StreetDoctors says

This report lays bare the feelings and experiences of young people at risk of or involved in violence during lockdown. It powerfully demonstrates their pain, confusion and loneliness, their lack of support, their fears for their safety and their feelings of loss. But it also highlights their amazing active citizenship during the crisis, and their hopes for a more positive future,  one that they desperately want to make a positive contribution to.

Jake Lake, Policy and Prevention Lead and Samantha Rennells, Trainee Clinical Psychologist, at MAC-UK, say

“What this report shows us is something people who work with them already know – that these young people are among the kindest and most compassionate in society, who are willing and eager to help out their communities as much as they can. It also shows us where we failed them as a society during the first lockdown, leaving young people feeling isolated and confused.”

download the report

download the executive summary



About the charities:

  • StreetDoctors: At StreetDoctors we believe that knowledge is power, so we equip young people at risk of youth violence with the skills to become lifesavers in their communities and with the knowledge to make informed decisions about how to keep themselves and others safe.
  • Redthread: We empower young people to thrive as they navigate the challenging transition to adulthood by integrating trauma-informed youth work into the health sector.
  • MAC-UK: We want to create social equality by radically transforming excluded young people’s access to mental health services. Excluded young people are not the problem – in fact they hold the solutions to the problems they face.
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