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UK News

Christian charity boss warns coronavirus impact on young people as significant as war times

by Tola Mbakwe

YMCA England and Wales has said the coronavirus pandemic is having a significant mental and economic impact on young people, and it expects the crisis to leave long-lasting effects.  

Denise Hatton, CEO of the Christian charity, told Premier feelings of isolation, fear and anxiety with young people have become common during the coronavirus lockdown. 

"It is around their mental wellbeing most significantly, and just the connection that they now no longer have with their own peer group," she said. 

"I think post the coronavirus most young people will find it very challenging to get into employment if they're not in it now."

A study from the Resolution Foundation found one-third of 18-24-year-old employees (excluding students) have lost jobs or been furloughed, compared to one-in-six prime-age adults.

Also, 35 per cent of non-full-time student 18-24-year-old employees are earning less than they did prior to the outbreak. 

Hatton likened the impact of the coronavirus pandemic to what young people dealt with during war times. 

"People weren't able to find their own employment, they weren't able to put food on the table, there was rationing.

"I know it doesn't feel like that's what's happening now, but if you're one of those families that is having to rely on food parcels and food banks, my understanding is that's increased. 

"One food bank I know used to give out around 70 parcels a week and is now giving out 700. That shows you the scale of impact that we're having in our communities."

Hatton said just like the YMCA responded with a huge amount of community work during WWI and the Second World War, it's also been connecting with young people during the coronavirus pandemic to bring hope. 

The charity is continuing to work with vulnerable young people in local communities by providing accommodation, its hostels have been used to house rough sleepers and its youth services and family mediation services have been digitized. The YMCA has also launched a counselling app six months earlier than it anticipated in order to help people through the crisis. 

Hatton encouraged Christians to share with young people about the importance of having hope and faith in God.

"I think if people can't see light, it affects their mental well-being.  I think it affects their aspirations for the future. 

"Particularly for people who may have felt depressed going into this lockdown, or a sense of anxiety or may not have been in a great place around their mental health, I think it's huge not to be able to feel hope. 

"I think you get hope from people and from your faith." 

Listen to Premier's interview with Denis Hatton here:


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