Reported by The Guardian – the news we share raises awareness of equality issues being reported in the media. 

Beth Gee, 19, has been attending Creative Networks, a youth club in Bristol city centre, for the last three years. “It’s a place to hang out, see my friends,” she says. “I can also talk to staff if I’m feeling anxious.”

Gee says that before the pandemic, she was having weekly face-to-face support at the youth club, in addition to support from her local mental health services. Now she can no longer attend the youth club, so can’t see her friends. Gee is relieved that at least her community mental health team has switched to remote counselling. She has autism, an eating disorder and anxiety issues. “I’m lucky, I’m still getting support, but it’s on the phone now and instead of getting an hour, it’s more like 20 minutes,” she says.

Yet Gee feels she needs more support than ever. She works part time as a carer, looking after 10 to 15 older people in supported accommodation. But she fears getting coronavirus from or spreading it to her vulnerable clients. “Yesterday we were told of a suspected coronavirus case for someone on one of my rounds,” she says. “So now, on top of the masks and gloves, we’re having to wear face shields. It’s very worrying.”

Gee is far from alone in having heightened anxiety levels during the pandemic. New research by the National Youth Agency, which works with youth organisations and young people across the UK, and the children’s commissioner, published on Wednesday, shows that there are now 3 million vulnerable young people in England who need support with family relationships, mental health, domestic abuse, or other needs. That’s 2 million more vulnerable eight to 19-year-olds needing help because of the pandemic.

The figures were estimated from emerging data collated in March and April, including from helplines, sector reports and grassroots evidence, and compared with existing official data such as the numbers of children living with a vulnerable family background, figures on offending behaviour and NHS data on mental health.


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