'We risk a lost generation' - Suffolk study highlights Covid's impact on young

Stay Home Save Lives advert at an Ipswich bus stop. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

The study looks at how the Covid pandemic has impacted on young people - Credit: Sarah Lucy Brown

A new study into how Covid-19 has affected young people in Suffolk has highlighted how society needs to "continue the conversation" with young people in the wake of the pandemic.

Funded by the Diocese of St Edmundsbury and Ipswich, and the Ipswich Opportunity Area, the research involved interviewing 16 young people over a two month period.

The report was authored by Katie Tyrrell, a research associate at the University of Suffolk, and Lanai Collis-Phillips, a volunteer researcher.

The judges in the Dragon's Den-style Ipswich Pitch competition. Pictured from left, Richard Lister,

Katie Tyrrell, researcher at University of Suffolk - Credit: SIMON LEE PHOTOGRAPHY

Ms Tyrrell said: "Not all the effects were negative. But the research revealed that young people were generally adversely affected during the pandemic with isolation, worries about family and school and underlying fears about their long-term prospects."

Among the positive findings of the research were interviewees commenting that they had more time to bond with family members because of the lockdown.

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Other young people described feeling "alone" through the lockdown.

Another young person described feeling frustrated about their peers' lack of social-distancing.

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While a third interviewee described their nerves ahead of exams because they had not met the people on their course.

Lanai Collis-Phillips, volunteer for Women Against Sexual Exploitation and Violence Speak UP (WASSUP

Lanai Collis-Phillips, one of the report's authors - Credit: Lanai Collis-Phillips

The report's authors concluded: "Most importantly, organisations and wider society need to continue the conversation with young people, embedding their ideas, thoughts and reflections into policy and practice."

Richard Lister, Chair of the Ipswich Opportunity Area Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Richard Lister, chairman of the Ipswich Opportunity Area - Credit: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Commenting on the research, Richard Lister, chairman of the Ipswich Opportunity Area, said: "As children prepare to return to school, we have to recognise that in Ipswich we started with major inequalities in opportunity and outcomes for our young people.

"The Opportunity Area initiative had begun to change that, but those inequalities will have been made worse by the pandemic which the findings of this report suggest.

"We must work much harder now to readdress this and improve the social mobility of young people or we risk a lost generation."

Bishop Martin Seeley. Picture: KEITH MINDHAM

Martin Seeley, Bishop of St Edmundsbury and Ipswich - Credit: KEITH MINDHAM

Martin Seeley, Bishop of St Edmundsbury and Ipswich, added: "This report highlights the difficulties faced by young people during this time, alongside the sacrifices they have made and the losses they have suffered during this pandemic.

"We owe it to them, and to the whole of our society, not just to rebuild the lives and opportunities of young people, but to work with them to do it differently.

"I am calling on community leaders to listen to young people and work with them to develop solutions and ways of working that are expressed and endorsed by young people and not imposed on them.

"We all need to work together for a better future – and if we involve young people now we will build better solutions for all of us."

You can read the research here.

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