Over the past few weeks, the fog of the pandemic appears to be slowly lifting.

A successful start to the vaccination programme and the gradual relaxation of restrictions are all positive signs.

However, the lasting impact of the pandemic is yet to be uncovered and I’m concerned about the ongoing impact on children and young people.

It seems everyday a new story or statistic is revealed that demonstrates that children and young people will suffer the most long-term adversity because of the pandemic.

The National Youth Agency has reported that 60 per cent of those who have become unemployed through the pandemic are between the ages of 18 to 24.

Young Minds released results of a recent survey that showed 67pc of young people aged 13-25 said that the pandemic will have a long-term negative effect on their mental health.

These are worrying statistics but, over the last few weeks, Future Youth Zone and many other youth organisations have been able swing our doors open for young people to allow them to reignite their passions for an array of positive activities and to reconnect with youth workers in person. Our building feels alive with (socially distanced) laughter and energy again.

But we need support from the whole community if we are truly going to make a difference at this critical moment to show young people that their futures can be positive.

Young people need support on many different levels across all sectors.

We need business owners to consider offering work experience opportunities, we need members of the community who can volunteer their time to support young people and above all we need statutory financial investment in youth services.

The proverb ‘it takes a village to raise a child’ has never been more significant and I’m confident that, with a combined effort, we can ensure that the impact of the pandemic does not unfairly affect children and young people.

If you can support young people and make a lasting impact on their lives, get in touch today via the email below and help us give young people the future they deserve.

Thanks to Barking and Dagenham Post for providing some space each month for me to champion young people and share my views and thoughts on the youth sector. If you’re interested in our work please feel free to get in touch via enquiries@futureyouthzone.org.