Our approach to the challenges of a third lockdown in London

05/02/2021 – A third lockdown in twelve months presents substantial challenges and hardships for young people in London. It has also demanded speedy and wholesale adaptation by our Fight for Peace team of staff to ensure that, in whatever way possible, we are meeting the new and existing needs of our members.

Fight for Peace Head of Practice and Programme Development, Jacob Whittingham Vigors explains the unique challenges being faced by young people in this moment and the constant dedication to ensuring that we deliver support to meet these needs now and long into the future.

“It’s the start of a new year, but we seem to be facing challenges that have become very familiar over the past twelve months. With this being the third lockdown, and with new more contagious strains of the coronavirus to contend with, we are finding that this is a real test for our young people and the programmes we deliver to support their development. 

The psychological impact of going back to where we’ve already been in terms of another lockdown is real I think, and it really compounds the issues of access to education, employment, support and nutritious meals, that our young people are dealing with right now.   

What we’re seeing is young people’s aspirations being impacted by the difficulties they are encountering in learning, and in the job market. Schools are making amazing efforts to adapt to the current circumstances but online engagement means it can be more difficult to communicate with teachers, and learners can miss vital interactions. There is also the issue of inconsistent access to wifi and data, and computers that are quick or loud enough for a really effective learning experience. 

The aspirations of those applying to further education or looking for jobs are also really heavily impacted right now. There is lots of uncertainty about whether it’s the right time to attend university and, for those looking to start a career, it feels like access points have been cut off and this really impacts how people see their future. In the intense current market, finding a job, linking and networking, and gaining experience all present real difficulties. It can be hard to know where to start. 

Domestic abuse is also a serious concern. We have seen this intensify with people contained in their homes and,  even in positive domestic environments there is a feeling of suffocation and being trapped. This is not to mention the well documented impact these collective difficulties are having on mental health and wellbeing. 

From a practitioners’ perspective, we must constantly remind ourselves and understand that we are in a completely different and constantly changing landscape – we are dealing with a different beast. In response, we are continually testing different approaches to see what is most effective – tweaking, reviewing and adapting to best meet the needs of our members. 

Right now, this means providing our programmes in an online setting, helping keep our young people physically and mentally active and providing them, particularly those most vulnerable, with the individual support they need. 

As a team of staff we have to recognise that we are in uncharted waters and we are learning from the experiences of the last 12 months, listening to what our young people need and staying open to learn from how others are approaching these difficult times. 

As we have said many times, overcoming adversity is in the DNA of our organisation and we know that better times are ahead and getting closer each day. Our crucial message to our members is that this situation is temporary, that we will all get through it, and we will be back to normal and stronger than ever just as soon as we are able.”