Portrayal of young people in the media since the outbreak of COVID-19 has been varied, as has young people’s experiences across the UK. Research from Beetfreaks Youth Trends, who also conducted research for us in Year One, shows that 58% of young people have said Covid-19 has left them unsure about their futures. So what has life been like for young people here in the Lakes and Dales? Four of them give us an insight:

“Lockdown has been an insightful experience. As an 18 year old due to take my A Levels this summer, I was expecting to work through a period of exam stress and then spend my well earned break with family and friends. Instead, like the whole nation, I have experienced an elongated period of uncertainty and doubt.

Over this time, I have found my feelings have changed dramatically. To begin, I was shocked and frustrated that my future plans had been thrown up in the air so suddenly. It was difficult to comprehend that my summer may not go ahead as intended. Not only that, but it was tough to switch from seeing my friends every day, five days a week, to only being able to contact them through social media. As time went on, we were forced to accept the idea that we would not see each other for at least couple of months, which became easier as we increasingly understood the severity of the situation.

When reflecting back to the first couple of weeks, I can definitely see a huge change in my tolerance of changes that happened.

As Coronavirus cases escalated sharply in March, it was announced that A Level Exams would not be taking place. This fact predominantly affected my mindset and those of my friends as we knew that holidays and plans could be easily arranged later on in years to come, but exams could not. It took away everything I had worked towards during my time at school. In essence, there was no end goal, and I realised we would be defined as the “Covid Generation” along with those taking GCSEs and finishing University. Having this time to contemplate the work I put in for these exams, I comprehended that exam stresses would have been incomparable to my current mental state. I am so grateful that I  am privileged enough to attend such a great school who quickly organised some Pre University online courses for my year, which were vital in giving structure to my days and weeks. However, like many of my classmates, I feel I will not be able to have the closure I wanted before I move on to University. Having an unconditional offer for my first choice University has given me some security and I sympathise with peers who have no defined path forward.

In terms of my location, my appreciation for the outdoors and the rural area in which I live in has doubled. Being able to go outside into such beautiful surroundings, wether doing exercise or simply spending time in the garden, has been so helpful when feeling down. Local independent businesses have also been key in providing food deliveries and services to those who are unable to access large deliveries, especially when bearing in mind we have a large elderly population.

The media representation of young people during this time has been mixed. There has been a lot of focus on a minority of young people who have not followed the guidelines, especially locally, which is frustrating when so many of us have been following them. With both parents working in the NHS I feel I have a greater understanding of the strict measures and challenges faced, and to see peers flaunting parties and so on on social media has been difficult. Yet I have also seen many stories in the media of young people making a stand for change and aiding the local community in countless ways.

Looking ahead, there is still an undefined stage of lockdown we are yet to encounter, but I  am anticipating my move to University in September with hope and lockdown has certainly made me appreciate where I live so I would certainly consider returning in future.” Grace, 18

“I was expecting to work through a period of exam stress and then spend my well earned break with family and friends. Instead, like the whole nation, I have experienced an elongated period of uncertainty and doubt.” Grace

“My experience of lockdown has had its ups and downs. For example,  my career has progressed as I am a key worker.This has enabled me to work overtime throughout the pandemic, gain more experience in the sector and achieve a promotion.On the other hand, my apprenticeship feels like it has come to a standstill as there is still a lot of work to do but college is closed and I am busy at work. I found the first month or so of lockdown very difficult as I was working but I couldn’t see my friends or family. However, being able to organise, take part in and watch Fresh Perspective’s live Instagram workshops has given me something to look forward to each week. I have also been able to pick up lost hobbies such as writing and scrapbooking, and been able to redecorate my room due to staying in more and spending less.

My feelings towards lockdown have improved since restrictions started to lift and the number of cases and COVID-related deaths started to decrease, as this enables me to have a better sense of freedom as well as feel less anxious about people I know who are at a high risk, such as my grandparents.

Overall, I’m trying to remain positive about the future post-COVID. And I did receive some good news during the lockdown; my best friend gave birth to a beautiful, healthy baby boy!”

Maisie, 20

“The pandemic has brought many raw emotions and opinions to the surface of many, however not all voices are being valued during this time. Seemingly, the younger generation are amongst those whose voice are being disregarded. Being from the younger generation, I’ve found it hard to voice my concerns on lockdown being lifted without being labelled as a ‘sensitive snowflake’ and having my opinion be completely disregarded. Whereas on the other hand if I was to act like some of the people who visited the pubs when they re-opened this weekend, it’s likely I would be regarded as a ‘typical irresponsible young person’ despite many pub-goers being much older. It’s left me feeling unsure where I stand in society.‘ – Sian, 25

“It’s left me feeling unsure where I stand in society.‘ ” Sian

“At the risk of sounding really privileged, I can honestly say life in lockdown has been okay for me. I’m very lucky to have a decent sized garden and had space to sit away from the family and crack on with my uni work but now we’re coming to the end, I am starting to get a small case of cabin fever, especially as now I’ve finished uni and am job-hunting. As someone who lived at home whilst at university, I really enjoyed not having to waste a lot of money on fuel to travel to Manchester three times a week, but I feel it did affect how modules were taught and everyone’s attendance to the zoom calls. It almost felt like I’d finished uni already even though I had two months left. It made it a lot easier living where I live as I had all the open countryside to look at and use as an escape from work so the lockdown has definitely made me appreciate the lovely Lancashire Countryside! Over here, I feel like there isn’t much of a representation of younger voices but that may be due to me not knowing where to look, whereas over in Skipton, we at Fresh Perspective are trying hard to become that voice for young people living rurally.”– Beth, 23

“I can honestly say life in lockdown has been okay for me.” Beth

Great Place: Lakes and Dales, which is working to increase the number of under 35s choosing to live and work in the area, is helping young people develop their careers with its free resource Create Your Future.

The website and its related material were originally aimed at schools and young people leaving further and higher education but the digital resource is free to access for anyone. We are encouraging young people whose normal education and employment has been impacted by Covid-19 to get involved with it.

Fresh Perspective is a group for and run by young people living in the area. To find out more join them on Instagram and there’s even a private Facebook group you can join to hear about events and workshops.

We realise that most businesses and organisations are in survival mode just now but creativity, culture and business will be at the heart of recovery and young people can be key to that. Why not join us for Innovate Your Offer? A collaborative workshop designed for young people aged 17 to 35 years old, who live and/or work in the Lakes and Dales. The workshop which is split in to two two-hour sessions over two days in July 2020, is designed to support the creative, business and cultural sectors to shape the post-COVID world. Find out more here.