Girls tell us how they've been affected by Covid-19 crisis

20 May 2020

Findings reveal over half of girls aged 15 -18 feel lockdown has had a negative impact on their mental health – amidst high levels of worry, stress and loneliness.

  • Rainbows, Brownies, Guides and Rangers asking Government to include their voices in future decisions. 
  • Girlguiding continues to build confidence and wellbeing for girls across the UK during uncertain times through its online guiding and wellbeing programme.

Girlguiding, the UK’s leading charity for girls and young women has released new research of 7,000 members today revealing how girls and young women aged 4-18 in the UK are coping with the drastic changes to their daily lives during the Covid-19 pandemic.

The research reveals a significant impact on the wellbeing of girls and young women. A quarter of girls aged 11-14 (24%) and half of girls aged 15–18 (51%) report that coronavirus and lockdown have had negative impact on their mental health.

There are signs of girls feeling sad from a very young age with a third (33%) of girls aged 4 to 10 saying they feel sad most of the time. A third (34%) of girls aged 11 to 14 say they feel lonely most of the time.

Of girls aged 15 -18, 45% said they are feeling stressed or worried (42%) and 67% said they felt disconnected and lonely not being able to see their friends. Nearly half of girls in this age group said social isolation is putting a strain on their relationships at home.

The top factors negatively influencing the mental health of girls aged 15 - 18 during this time include:

  • Uncertainty about school and education (76%)
  • Feelings of loneliness and isolation (51%)
  • A lack of freedom and independence (44%)

Girlguiding Advocate panel member Alice, age 15, said:

The survey shows that all girls and young women have been affected in some way and that 87% of girls my age are worried about our futures, which is incredibly concerning. That's why we have called on the Government to answer questions from us and host a youth press conference.

Girls aged 11-18 are doing several things to help themselves through this challenging time including:

  • Keeping in touch with family and friends (90% of girls and young women aged 11-18)
  • Trying to relax, have fun and do hobbies (81% of girls and young women aged 11-18)
  • Not watching, reading or listening to the news too much (47% of girls aged 11-18) 
  • Doing physical activity when they can (72% of girls and young women aged 11- 18)

In addition, 61% of girls aged 15-18 listed improvements to the environment and nature during this crisis as one of the things that is having a positive impact on how they feel.

Community and kindness

Girlguiding members continue to spread kindness, make a difference in communities and learn about mental health and wellbeing.

Despite these worries, in a positive show of community action, most girls across all age groups (96%) have been following the rules to stay home. Nearly all girls have taken part in the weekly clap for carers, 90% of girls aged 4-10 have put rainbows or posters in their windows and almost a third of girls aged 15-18 (30%) said they have made a donation or fundraised for a charity.

During these times of uncertainty, Girlguiding is continuing to work alongside our dedicated volunteers to offer life-changing experiences and support for girls and young women. Our volunteers have been keeping members connected with their weekly unit meetings with 48% of volunteers recently surveyed delivering ‘virtual guiding’, allowing hundreds of thousands of girls to continue to have fun and learn new skills and keep in touch with their friends.

Girlguiding Advocate Maddie, 21, said: “It has been so important to be able to keep in touch with my Guides and Rangers units via our virtual weekly meetings. For some, this has been the only consistent and familiar activity in their lives since lockdown. It’s given them a chance to catch up with their friends, share their worries and take part in fun guiding activities.

“Personally, being able to connect with my Guides and Rangers has also given me that familiarity and focus during this time. And being able to talk to my fellow Advocates and for us to support each other if needed has made such a difference.”

In March, Girlguiding launched Adventures at home, an online hub of activities open to all children and families across the UK to help them continue to have fun, build resilience and support their wellbeing during this time. It features a wellbeing package with helpful resources to support young people to deal with their emotions. Girlguiding’s wellbeing programme and badges includes activities on meditation, mindfulness and self-care.

On 23 May over the bank holiday weekend, Girlguiding will be hosting its first ever Adventures at home virtual festival, free and open to all young people to take part.

Give girls a voice

Rainbows, Brownies, Guides and Rangers are calling on the Government to include their voices in future decisions that affect them

As we come out of lockdown and look to the future, it is evident girls and young women aged 15-18 are very concerned about what comes next:

  • 87% are worried about the impact on the economy and people’s jobs
  • 70% are worried about falling behind at school or college
  • 87% are worried that the virus will spread again
  • 74% are worried about having to go into lockdown again in the future.

Nearly all girls 11-18 (90%) would like more information about what to expect in the future, including the reopening of schools and 61% of girls aged 11-18 say they would like more information from the Government directly to children and young people.

To add to future uncertainties around career prospects, nearly half of girls aged 15–18 indicated that a planned work experience, internship or apprenticeship they had lined up had been postponed or cancelled.

Angela Salt OBE, Girlguiding CEO said: "As the government considers its next steps, it should not overlook the specific impact the Covid-19 crisis has had and will continue to have on girls and young women. Over a decade of our research on girls’ lives in the UK has shown that girls face a specific combination of pressures that affect their ability to thrive.

We want to see all decision makers take this into account and consult a diversity of young people as we begin to design and rebuild society.”


Schools and education are a source of anxiety for girls and young women.

The closure of schools has also had a major impact on all girls and young women. They miss seeing their friends (93% of all girls surveyed) and they miss learning (49% of all girls surveyed).

Younger girls miss their teachers and teaching assistants (79% girls aged 4-10) and over half of girls in this age group miss playtime with their friends (59% age 4-10).

Half of girls aged 11-18 (48%) find it hard to focus on schoolwork and education during this time.

The cancellation of exams has fuelled anxieties of girls aged 15-18 with 39% saying they felt disappointed and 41% worried or anxious about exams being cancelled. A third of girls at GCSE age say they feel ‘concerned about my teachers predicting my grades’.

While girls miss school, they also have concerns for their health. 31% of girls aged 11-18 are worried about their own health and getting sick, many more, 81% of girls aged 11-18, say they are worried about other people getting sick.

Download the full report

Read the full report of our research into girls' lives during Covid-19

Download our research report