Call to mobilise youth workers with a clear exit strategy for young people from lockdown

A major new report was launched today by the National Youth Agency calling for a clear exit strategy for young people who are likely to be included in the early stages of release from lockdown measures. Please click the cover below to download the full report:

 “At a time of crisis and great uncertainty, we need to support young people now and to be confident in their future. Unless we rally to assist young people through the crisis and support youth work as an essential service, the long-term damage will be unimaginable” said NYA Chief Executive Leigh Middleton.

At home and out of sight of formal services, the new report highlights the scale of young people’s needs which have increased and, in many instances, are caused by the pandemic. A clear exit strategy from lockdown is needed for young people, more than simply schools being open. Youth services have been overlooked and, all too often, youth workers have been furloughed or redeployed.

The top-three concerns are:

  • ‘Increased mental health problems’: Over a million young people have self-reported mental health issues. There is a spike in calls to Help Lines, with 84% reporting worse mental health following school closures or being no longer able to access mental health support
  • ‘Missing from education’: With schools only partially open and youth centres closed, as few as 5% of young people are currently engaged in school and have limited or no access to youth work. Even when schools re-open there are 700,000 young people persistently absent or NEET (not in education, employment or training)
  • ‘At risk, at home’: Over a million young people are at risk from any of the so-called ‘toxic trio’ of addiction, mental health, and domestic abuse. Despite this, child protection referrals have plummeted by 50% in some areas

The report identifies homelessness, self-harm and suicide, poverty and a range of other vulnerabilities and risky behaviours in potentially unsafe environments.

The challenges for young people are likely to increase as we head towards and through the summer, as will the need for effective engagement in public health education through youth work. Youth services must be enabled, empowered and up-skilled to do more, not less, to meet the immediate needs of vulnerable young people and for sustained support as we emerge from the crisis” added Leigh Middleton.

The Children’s Commissioner for England Anne Longfield said, in her foreword to the report:

Children and young people are facing unprecedented challenges. Teenagers with poor mental health, living in cramped and overcrowded homes, without school and much of the other support normally in place can be isolated and at risk. That’s why it’s so important that youth workers are mobilised to reach out to vulnerable young people to provide support and an essential life line during these turbulent times.

– Ends –

Notes to the Editor:

  • The focus of the report is for 8–19 years old, as ages of adolescent behaviour and vulnerabilities
  • See link to the full report: Out Of Sight
  • NYA is the national body for youth work in England (Professional, Statutory & Regulatory Body)
  • For more information visit

For media enquiries contact: Jonathan Hopkins –

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