Over the last few long months I’ve heard people comment on, complain about, rationalise, accept, even celebrate, this strange new world we find ourselves living in.
The fears and concerns, the frustrations and angers, the surprising positives or opportunities that it has brought for them. Discussion often ends with a comment that aims to quietly suppress any disagreement:
“We are all in the same boat”.
At Rock Trust we worked furiously back in March to ensure that everyone was safe at home with the resources they needed when lockdown began. I myself went home and set up my laptop on the dining table and simply continued working. Of course, I couldn’t just continue as before. There was a lot of scrambling to ensure we had all of the guidance the teams would need. There was extra work to adapt our frontline provision and make sure the young people we work with had the right support and access to internet and phones. We also had communications with our supporters, funders, and partners – individuals and groups who have been integral to our ability to ‘continue’ and rise to the challenges we faced. We got through the first wave of upheaval though, and eventually I settled into the new rhythm of my working life, with all of the ups and downs that came with it.
Space to escape to
I live with my 23 year old son, who at the very start of lockdown was laid off from the job he had entered as an apprentice when he left school. He was devastated but he very quickly managed to find a temporary job working on the bin lorries. His 6 weeks of work saw people smiling and waving to him from their windows, thanking him for keeping the service running. Then when his 6 weeks had ended, he was home. All day. Every day.
Now, I not only love my son, we also have a great relationship, but it wasn’t long before tensions arose. I was working, more hours than I normally would, and was still doing all of the other things that came with being a mum. I was missing my friends, my team, my life before all of this. He was sleeping and playing xbox. Unable to see his friends, missing his physical job, he was getting more and more frustrated. I was asking him to take on some more of the house duties and becoming more and more exasperated at doing all of the work. There was bickering and endless negotiating, but we have always been able to work things out.
While we live together, we still have our separate spaces to escape to. We also get on really well. We live close to parks and cycle paths. We have wifi (increased for lockdown) and movie streaming services. We are very lucky.
This pandemic is no leveller
Young people are some of the hardest hit by the Covid-19 crisis and lockdown. They are more likely to work in the “gig-economy” with insecure jobs, and if they live in temporary accommodation or rented homes on their own, the situation is desperate. Applications for universal credit have surged and poverty is the main driver of homelessness.: Rock Trust
I think of young people living at home with family members they don’t get on with, struggling with strained relationships, potentially not feeling safe, where they are sharing rooms and living on top of each other or where they are alone, with nobody to talk to, where there is no outside space and no resources to get online. These young people, their parents and families, in many cases have been faced with fewer options and reduced support over the past few months. Maybe they got through that period but if they did, then what next? Have relationships been irreversibly damaged and if so, will we face a future where increasing numbers of young people can no longer live at home? All of this to consider as we move into Winter and the prospect of further lockdowns.
Since March, Rock Trust have experienced an increase in engagement and demand for our services. Relationship breakdown, housing, mental health and finances have been some of the main issues impacting young people. It isn’t over yet. I can assure you – this pandemic is no great leveller.
We may all be in the same storm, but we are certainly not in the same boat.
This post was first published in Rock Trust blog. Featured image: Boat at sea, by Ewan Morrison
Rock Trust was set up in 1991 to support young people who were homeless or at risk of becoming homeless. Since October 1992 their biggest fundraiser has been the annual sleep out.. Last year’s event raised more than £20,000. This year Covid put paid to the event but Rock Trust invited people to raise money by staying awake. You can donate HERE.
Insecure work and underemployment: Fraser of Allander ‘The underemployed are more likely to be young, less qualified and low paid’
How Housing First for Youth provides homes and hope for young people in Scotland (Sceptical Scot’s ‘Christmas Story’ 2019)