Leaders in changing worlds

This year has been tough, especially for young people. Their education, friendships, future plans were all put on hold because of the pandemic. Despite the disruption, many stood up and led the fight on issues such as climate change, racial injustice and rising mental health concerns.

Here's a look at some of the issues young people stood up to and made their own in 2020.

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Fighting for our planet

While Covid-19 has shaken us and dominated the news, the climate crisis has also had a big year. We've seen devastating wildfires, countless storms and floods, species extinction.

Young people were determined to keep it in the headlines. School pupils, youth activists and student networks across the country came together to say enough is enough.

Last year, hundreds of thousands of young people took to our streets, with over 200 events taking place across the country. This year, most of the action moved online, but young people used it to their advantage, using social media to amplify their voice.

At the beginning of 2020, UK Youth Parliament laid out their priorities and climate change was top of their list. They launched ‘Protect Our Future', a national campaign demanding action to address the climate emergency.

Climate change protest on waterloo bridge

young woman with climate change badge standing next to young man, both smiling at camera

Despite Covid-10 measures, youth climate groups have organised socially distanced protests and online events to keep up the pressure up on world leaders. 

It's a great illustration of the strength of unity when young people join together on a cause that means so much to them. 

you can’t really say it’s not worth protesting...I hope it will at least get more people feeling like they can do something.

mental health during lockdown

Overcoming lockdown lows

The pandemic has put a huge strain on young people's well-being and mental health.

When schools closed, many young people lost their support network. They couldn't see their friends, talk to teachers, spend time away from home. All of a sudden their routine was gone and life became very limiting. 

Mental health services closed too. Many moved to online appointments. Waiting lists got longer. So, young people adapted and found new ways to support each other.

four young people on zoom call

mental health

Whether it's sharing personal struggles on social media or creating well-being resources for young people, younger generations have been incredible at opening up conversations about mental health.

It shouldn't be their responsibility to offer mental health support but they step up when others don't. Their openness helps those going through similar battles. 

it's ok not to be ok, no one has to be perfect all the time

 

protesting against racial injustice

protester holding up 'black lives matter' placard

No justice, no peace

In May, the killing of George Floyd sparked mass protests on the injustices and daily discrimination faced by black people across the world. 

A month earlier, Belly Mujinga, a transport worker at Victoria Station, had an argument with a man in the station and later died from Covid-19. Her story was initially untold. Only through campaigning did it make the headlines. And then it raised pressing questions about race, abuse and workers' rights.

What did young people do? They mobilised.

Young refugees talking about Black Lives Matter

Across the country, young people stood up to speak about their experiences to spread awareness and fight for a fairer world. Children from all ethnicities and backgrounds came together to stand against racism.

It was five young people, aged 16-21 who organised the protests in Bristol. They spent twelve hour days on zoom trying to raise money, arrange speakers, attract press coverage. Bristol later became the epicentre of the debate over the removal of national monuments - slave traders and other problematic figures.

These young people, as well as other youth groups across the country, have been fundamental in addressing institutional racism. With these young leaders, we have a good chance at achieving justice and peace. 

Doing their bit 

Young people have had huge amounts to contend with this year. But they didn’t lie down. They stepped up and fought for the issues they believe in.

They took the lead on issues of mental health, climate and social justice. Their passion, energy and hope is remarkable. We see it in the young people we work with. We see it in young people across the country. It inspires us to keep fighting for hope. 

Together we will achieve a society built for all children.