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Citizens rising

8 April, 2022

Back in 2020, we wrote about a new report by our friends at The Relationships Project, detailing the lessons learnt during 100 days of lockdown. Now, they’re back with a new report: Citizens Rising. Its focus: how Covid-19 affected young people. 

The report summarises the experiences of children and young people, as told to a panel of ‘chief listeners’. It sets out the fear, loss and isolation felt by young people during the pandemic, as well as their gratitude for the relationships that remained. And it details the unique situation of young people, who have less freedom to choose their intimate relationships, while also  tending to have weaker relationships with wider society.  

Whilst lockdown intensified the importance of close family relationships, relationships in the ‘middle ring’ (with acquaintances rather than close friends or wider society) were often cut off. Now lockdown is over, young people told adults they need the time and space to reconnect with both close friends and these broader acquaintances. And they need the infrastructure – from swimming pools to libraries – that facilitate these connections.   

Much of the child-focussed response to the pandemic has been on public services, such as catching up on lost school time. But can businesses help too? We think so. For every brand and business whose purpose is connecting people and communities, this is an opportunity to step up. Could shops aimed at young people train their cashier staff to start conversations or signpost to places that could help? Could cafes, restaurants and sports facilities do more to create bumping spaces for young people to interact – instead of deterring them from doing so? 

Lockdown may be over, but its effects could be felt for generations. Acting now to give young people the spaces and connections they need is crucial. We can all help.   

By Sarah Howden

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