A key challenge that can no longer be ignored and that has become ever more noticeable during the COVID-19 pandemic is the lack of options for young people. Not only in terms of jobs, but in entertainment too. I know people who recently graduated from university and, as a consequence of the pandemic and with no previous job experience in the sectors they want to work in, have no way into the job market. I also know young people who have developed a worrying addiction to their phones, gaming and online streaming videos, as this is apparently the most attractive source of information and entertainment at home. The aforementioned concerns were already there even before the pandemic, but this event has magnified these issues and they can no longer claim invisibility.
The question is how to facilitate centres where the young can help and work with the young (and be paid for it). It‚’s time to open effective and highly organised Youth Clubs all around the country; it‚’s time to revolutionise the role of Teaching Assistants in the classrooms; it‚’s time to bring theatre groups, dancers and storytellers into schools; it‚’s time to invest in Youth Centres, libraries, parks and activities that create a sense of community FREE OF CHARGE, a sense of community that doesn‚’t only spring from a trip to the mall. It‚’s time to pay attention to the increasingly deteriorating mental and physical health of the young due to a limited amount of activities at hand. We need to create opportunities for them to develop pro-social behaviours and build healthy relationships with the people around them.