We have been speaking to the young people we work with during lockdown. We’re determined to make sure we hear their voices, share their experiences and can support them now and in the future.

We do that through our dedicated team whose passion for helping young people is at the heart of everything they do. We asked three of them to reflect on the conversations they’ve been having over the last few weeks and what we should all know about young people’s experiences in lockdown and the impact it could have.

Mark Allison, Programme Lead

“We may have to isolate physically, but that doesn’t mean we have to be isolated”

As I’ve been speaking to our young people, it’s been clear that overwhelmingly they‘ve been keeping to the guidelines and restrictions and it is incredible to see their care for their communities and desire to keep others safe. They deserve our recognition and respect, especially because many of these young people are struggling and are experiencing lockdown in households that feel crowded or disrupted.

Many of those we work with already found it hard to establish new relationships and build trust with others, so I fear this experience could intensify existing issues with self-confidence and communication. But that’s why although we’ve had to significantly change the way we offer support, it is vital we keep doing it.

For me, one young person who's generally very shy and struggles with their mental health really stands out from the last few weeks of virtual sessions. During the first sessions they would not say a word and would have their camera turned off. But a few weeks in, they’re now a regular attendee, they're contributing to the sessions and really enjoying their time with us. They are even using their webcam and meeting new young people! Rather than being set back we’ve managed to help this young person grow in confidence in really hard circumstances, and that is great to see.

This experience has reinforced that what we do is not just about making sure our young people get their qualifications, it is just as important to make sure they are safe and well and that they are getting the most out of the journey we take them on. That’s always been our ethos but it’s more important now than ever that we offer holistic support, helping them to overcome the barriers to reaching their full potential. Even if that looks a little different right now.


Scarlett Stubbs – Programme Lead/Assistant

“There is strength in knowing that what you’re feeling is normal and it’s OK to express it”

There are a variety of different factors which, during lockdown, make life particularly difficult for the young people we work with. Some may not have positive role models at home, some of them are currently grieving and many are missing being at school because they’re struggling with their schoolwork and find it difficult to communicate their needs. 

We really need to listen to what these young people are saying. Rather than trying to quick-fix issues with generic information and tips, we want to open a dialogue with them and support them to choose to do things differently. That’s always been my approach.

I try to advise them on the importance of healthy routines and keeping good sleep patterns, based on their individual issues and needs. My colleagues and I use examples from our lives, to show them that they‘re not alone in this situation and that many of us are experiencing similar issues right now. There’s strength in these young people simply knowing that what they are feeling is normal and that it’s okay to express it. They’re not alone.

I do have reasons to be optimistic though. The experiences and things they learn during this time will shape their view of the world. I’ve seen a lot of young people reflecting about putting aside personal gain, looking after others and supporting one another as a community. I’m so impressed by the thoughtfulness and resilience these young people are showing.


Leah Pendlebury – Programme Lead/Assistant

“This could affect them long term and stand in the way of their future if they don’t get the support they need”

Lockdown has been tough for everyone in some way or another. But I think it’s been particularly tough for our young people as they often need routine to help them stay focused. In many cases we’ve worked really hard with young people on keeping those structures working and once out of their routine it’s very difficult to get that motivation back.

Being at school is obviously crucial for their education. Home learning unfortunately isn’t the same and a lot of young people don’t have the support structures or resources they need to thrive in this environment. For us it's clear that many of these young people need continued support with their social development, their communication skills and their wellbeing, which is what we’re trying to offer. Without proper support many young people will be adversely affected by this period and it may stand in the way of their future aspirations and goals.

But it’s great to know that what we are doing is working. I had a lovely phone call with a parent of a student who was just about to start one of our programmes before lockdown. She was so incredibly appreciative of what we’re doing, even though we’ve had to adapt how we deliver very quickly. For her, the fact we didn’t just stop trying meant so much to her and her child.

So I’m glad we’ve persevered. We have learned a lot from this as an organisation and these experiences are informing what we will deliver in the future. We are incredibly keen to keep connecting our programme participants with a wider range of people using the technology available.

I think the fact that we’ve continued to engage with these young people and their families as best we can, when they may have expected us to just disappear, shows a real determination and passion from our staff, and I’m very proud to be a part of it.

To hear from some of the young people we have been speaking to in lockdown directly click on the links below.  If you want to hear more about how we’re supporting them and how you can help us do that, please sign up to our mailing list below.

Hear from Paige (15)   Hear from Zoe and Carly (13)