The YMCA of England and Wales has warned that the majority of young people are dealing with loneliness and stress due to the coronavirus pandemic.
A new study by the Christian youth charity reveals that 77 per cent of young people have felt lonelier and more isolated during lockdown, 73 per cent feel more stressed, and 56 per cent are worried about falling behind at school.
Meanwhile, as young people prepare to return to classrooms, the research revealed that 41 per cent are concerned about getting a job and 27 per cent say the pandemic has affected their decisions on what to do once school has finished.
The worries have taken a toll on young people's mental health since lockdown, with the research stating 57 per cent of youngster think their mental health has worsened.
Liam Preston from the YMCA told Premier there's also a sense of "digital fatigue".
"Young people don't want to be online all the time," he said. "It was around 73 per cent said that we're tired of spending so much time online. So what we need is interventions in the community, we need opportunities for young people to meet each other face to face, and to have interactions.
"That needs to be done in a way that safe and Covid secure, but young people are looking for opportunities to spend time with friends. They're looking for opportunities to do these types of activities that they enjoyed pre lockdown. We feel the best place to do that is still with quality youth work at quality youth centres."
Denise Hatton, chief executive of YMCA England and Wales, said it's because of statistics like this the charity has been calling for the Government to increase funding for youth services after it suffered devastating cuts of 70 per cent since 2010/11.
"The introduction of lockdown has accelerated and exacerbated the situation, with young people forced to stay at home, isolate themselves from their peers and be without access to positive activities," she said.
"A generation which was already at a disadvantage have been dealt a further blow by COVID-19 and face deep uncertainty about what is next for them in its wake. What is essential to support young people through the easing of lockdown and beyond are safe spaces like youth services. They can be utilised to carefully and positively build young people's confidence, provide much needed support and guidance, and ultimately help them to get back on track."
The YMCA has urged the Government to create a Cross Departmental Strategy for Children and Young People's recovery from COVID-19 and lockdown.
Listen to Premier's interview with Liam Preston here: