three person pointing the silver laptop computer
Photo by John Schnobrich on Unsplash

I get told time and time again that my early adult life will be some of the best years of my life. However, after spending some of the most important times of my early twenties in and out of lockdown, it seemed very hard to believe – and I’m not alone.

Young people were among some of the hardest hit during the pandemic: from missing out on life experiences and learning to study from home to being unable to socialise with friends and losing jobs due to the closure of retail and hospitality. Young people across the UK and beyond had to adapt to a new normal. We faced this all alongside battling with an insecure economy, an increasingly competitive jobs market and a lack of access to mental health services.

But as we come up to the third anniversary of the first national lockdown, young people have been hit with a double whammy of hurdles to jump. The cost-of-living crisis has meant young people across the UK are struggling to make ends meet. Research from the Co-op Group shows that more than a quarter of those aged 16-25 say that the rising cost of living will make it harder to get a job, whilst over a third say that these factors will negatively impact their mental wellbeing.

The challenges don’t end there. There is a growing feeling amongst young people that they must get out to get on and it’s becoming more and more prevalent. Co-op Group research also reveals that almost half of young people feel they will need to leave their hometown to achieve what they want in life. As someone who left their hometown in North Yorkshire to pursue a career in London, the need to spread power, wealth and opportunities to every part of the country has never been more important.

Something must be done, and urgently. That’s why the announcement of a new partnership between the Co-operative Group and Barnardo’s to support 750,000 young people aged 10-25 years old is so welcomed by many young people like me.

The new partnership will aim to help improve their mental well-being, confidence, and self-esteem; as well as helping young people and their families to meet basic needs, including access to food, at a time when the lasting effects of the pandemic and the cost-of-living crisis are exacerbating underlying challenges. The Co-op Group also aims to raise £5 million to support young people through the partnership and a youth advisory group will be created to ensure the partnership responds to the needs of young people today.

Together, we can help young people access basic needs, like food, improve their mental well-being and create better opportunities for their future. I’m glad our movement is taking proactive action to make sure that happens so no young person, regardless of their background, misses out.