Between 20-27 March 2020, UK Youth surveyed the needs of the youth sector and young people in the wake of COVID-19, and potential long-term impact. To ensure a diversity of perspectives from youth and community organisations that work with young people across the UK, we reached out to the UK Youth Movement and asked them to also share with their networks. The respondents of the survey represent the breadth and diversity of the youth sector. 252 respondents, representing 235 organisations, including network, membership and infrastructure organisations that further represent another 1,848 organisations completed the survey.
The respondents represent organisations that engage young people across all English regions and the four nations. The organisations who responded reported engaging at least 608, 700 young people in the last year.
We can also see that the respondents represent a spectrum of organisations by size, with more than half falling in the medium and small categories.
In order to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and protect the most vulnerable, the Government has put in place the biggest public health measures during peacetime. Without a doubt, whilst this has to be the priority, the impact this will have on young people is likely to be intense and long lasting, especially for the most vulnerable. Feedback from the UK Youth Movement predicts that the impact on young people will include the following, ranked by order of importance (based on number of responses).
1. Increased mental health or wellbeing concerns
2. Increased loneliness and isolation
3. Lack of safe space – including not being able to access their youth club/ service and lack of safe spaces at home
4. Challenging family relationships
5. Lack of trusted relationships or someone to turn to
6. Increased social media or online pressure
7. Higher risk for engaging in gangs, substance misuse, carrying weapons or other harmful practices
8. Higher risk for sexual exploitation or grooming
Members of UK Youth Voice, our national youth advisory group, corroborated our survey results. They reflected on and highlighted some of the concerns young people have for the future, such as the longterm effects of isolation on wellbeing and mental health, and uncertainty about employment.
There has never been a more important time for the organisations that support young people and transform their lives. However, the results of our rapid assessment and survey highlight the devastating impact that the youth sector is facing.
• Most respondents (88%) indicated they are likely or very likely to reduce service provision to young people.
• 31% said that staff redundancies were likely, while 17% said permanent closure was likely.
36% of those from medium organisations noted that staff redundancies were likely, followed by small (32%), large (29%), and micro (14%) organisations. The smaller likelihood for staff redundancies from micro organisations could be due in part to these organisations being more likely to hire volunteers rather than paid staff.
Permanent closures will hit small and micro organisations hardest. 22% of respondents from small and 21% from micro organisations said that permanent
closures were likely, followed by 17% from medium organisations and 11% from large organisations.
• 64% of respondents said that they were likely to lose sources of funding. About 69% of respondents from small organisations reported this, followed by medium (68%), large (63%), and micro (46%). This percentage is likely to be higher following lockdown measures announced 23rd March 2020.
• 71% of respondents said that they were likely to reduce staff hours. This percentage could be higher following lockdown measures announced 23rd March 2020.