It’s time for the UK government to engage with young people

Joining forces with other youth organisations, we once again ask the government to listen to young people

In March our Advocate youth panel called on the Government to hold a press conference on Covid-19 for young people.

The government has remained silent on this. Today, Girlguiding joins forces with a UK-wide network of organisations supporting young people to call on the government again to please, hear our voices.

It’s time for the UK government to engage with young people

Without urgent action, we risk the coronavirus pandemic leading to a lost generation of children and young people. Now more than ever, their voices must be heard.

The crisis has the potential to exacerbate existing inequalities and create new ones. The future is uncertain - with schools closed, exams cancelled and employment prospects diminished. Many feel anxious, disaffected and isolated. Mounting evidence from organisations and young people across the UK shows that their mental health is suffering and vulnerability is rising.

In spite of these challenges, young people are continuing to make a positive difference. They are staying at home, caring for family members, supporting their peers and reaching out to help others in their communities - and they have more to offer. We must recognise and respect their contribution. From Norway, to New Zealand, to Scotland, other countries are already leading the way forward in engaging with young people directly on these issues and more. The UK government should do the same.

Young people need to know that their government is listening and prepared to engage. This should start with the prime minister. The government has enabled over-18s in the general public to submit questions to the daily UK coronavirus press briefing, but now it should allow young people to have their questions answered too.

That is why we are calling on the prime minister to hold a dedicated press conference for young people to answer their questions about Covid-19 - what it means for them now and in the months to come, and to allow under-18s to submit questions to the daily press conference.

These actions must be the first steps in a wider UK Government strategy to engage young people more concertedly through this crisis. This includes communicating directly with young people as part of the ‘roadmap’ for the lockdown exit strategy.

Only by treating young people as active citizens can we address the significant challenges we collectively face, empower them to make a positive difference, and show that we understand our responsibility to shape the future of the UK with them.