Covid-19 lockdown and how we carry on campaigning

As the Youth Led Commission for Separated Children (YLCSC) prepare for the launch of their legal guardians campaign, one member reflects on what it is like to be a young person during lockdown.

lockdown and refugees

girl looks up smiling

Covid-19 has shown just how vulnerable some young people really are. For refugee and migrant children alone in the UK, they are more isolated than ever.

Their childhoods are frozen in time. They are unable to study, work or achieve their dreams while decisions about their future lies in the hands of the Government. Thousands of people across the country are recognising the challenges of living day to day with little control over their freedom, choices and ability to work and support themselves.   

We hope there will now be an increased understanding of the toll this can take on people’s lives, especially young people.

the campaign

Now the rest of the country has gone into lockdown, perhaps people can understand how we feel.

We last met face to face on  14 March at The Children’s Society’s London office. At this time, everyone was aware of the coronavirus and following the advice; bumping elbows instead of hugging, washing hands a lot and using hand sanitiser, but this was before words like lockdown and social distancing were on anyone’s radar.

A practitioner from The Children's Society told us, 'I used the train journey to London to talk about safety and potential lockdown with the young person. We especially talked about getting essentials and sanitising products as he had just moved into his flat. He later said, ‘that chat on the train, thank you because I have the essentials we talked about.’ 

The young people used the meeting to prepare what they wanted to say about their trip to Scotland and think about next steps for their campaign. 

Just a few days later, everything changed. When lockdown was implemented, staff at The Children's Society set up virtual meetings so we could stay connected and support each other through this difficult time.

I am grateful for the call. I feel you care. I will never forget that you called to check on me.  No one has called me since this lockdown.

Life moves online

We agreed to have virtual meetings every two weeks. As well as spending the time preparing for the campaign launch, we came up with fun and inventive ways to stay positive.

One of the young people came up with a great game for the new world of video conferencing; holding up household objects to their camera for others to guess. Can you guess what this is?

At the start of each session, everyone shares what they have been up to if they have tried anything new since the last session and give their answers to the questions like:

artwork

What is the first thing you will look forward to doing at the end of lockdown?
Answers from the group included: 

Throwing a house party
Going ice skating - I used to go but struggled to get time to go, now that I've been in lockdown, I've decided I want to restart
Playing football 

We have been keen to use the time in lockdown to develop new skills and hobbies. One young person shared their paintings:

The young person says ‘the paintings show how I was feeling that day and how my mental health was. When I’m stressed and not feeling ok, I just paint. When I paint, I feel much happier and better, when I see how it came out’.

Artwork 1

Artwork 2

Artwork 2

Another young person set the group a challenge to learn fourteen new skills in fourteen days. Although the group have had a lot of work to do to prepare for their campaign launch, they’ve really valued the sessions. 

This group has helped me. People listen to you. We are making changes together.