In last Sunday’s Observer a Manifesto for Children was issued as an eight point plan to tackle the crisis faced by a generation of British children as a result of the pandemic. The manifesto calls on government and the opposition to ‘work together to urgently implement (the manifesto) to minimise the impact of the pandemic on children and young people’.
The picture the Observer paints is a grim one indeed, and it ranges from growing poverty because of deepening inequality, declining mental health amongst young children, the impossibility of home learning for poorer children in already stressed households, and many other threats to the wellbeing of children and young adults.
The Observer does not pull any punches in its manifesto and it goes on to say that without intervention, the consequences of the pandemic will ‘blight the physical, mental and economic wellbeing of a generation of children for their entire lives’.
For a well established and highly respected national newspaper to make such a bold and unequivocal statement shows just how grave the problems facing the next generation really are, and how we need above all ‘energy, creativity, focus and investment’ to come up with solutions.
The Observer article goes on to make a number of points that show just what we can do when we need to. The Nightingale hospitals were built in few weeks, billions have been spent to keep the economy afloat during lockdown, the pace at which vaccine and treatment development have been accelerated is astonishing……..so why are our children and young people not receiving the same kind of urgent attention?
We have been working in schools with young people for a decade. Our knowledge and experience has been gained at the front line, in classrooms and schools halls up and down the country, introducing school students to the challenges and opportunities they will face in building independent lives, so the Observer’s comments have special relevance for us. Each of the eight points in the manifesto are excellent and should be implemented at once. But there is another huge area of financial life-skills education that every young person should receive, which would be of immediate and practical relevance, which is not in the manifesto.
Over the next few weeks, we will set out our four point plan, and show how it underpins all the work that the Observer advocates, but, without which, life for the vulnerable 18-25 age group will simply get harder and harder, no matter how many other worthwhile initiatives are undertaken.