Here at Young Scot, as we anticipated the scale of the Covid-19 crisis in March 2020, when we began updating our website and social media channels seven days a week with the latest Covid-19 information for young people. As the national youth information and citizenship charity for Scotland, it was essential that we swiftly refocused our services to ensure we could provide young people with the information they needed in real-time.
As the crisis began to unfold, it became apparent that young people would be one of the most affected groups. Overnight, they were unable to attend apprenticeships, work or university. Others began taking time off work or studies due to illness or caring for loved ones. For some, school closures got in the way of their exams.
It was easy for young people to feel scared by what they were hearing, and there was an urgent need for specialised youth information. We quickly began publishing quality-assured information on what was happening – including how to avoid catching Covid-19 and spreading it. We shared this information in the digital spaces young people spend their time in – Snapchat, Instagram, Facebook, TikTok and YouTube.
Our approach was to partner with information experts. This helped us ensure that we shared only the highest-quality information that challenged the misinformation that young people were seeing. Our partners included the Scottish Government, Student Awards Agency Scotland, Money and Pension Service, Scottish Qualifications Authority, and more. We also worked closely with our local authority partners and supported them to tailor our digital information for young people in their local areas.
Our youth information and social media outreach reached all corners of Scotland and has been extremely well received. Feedback from young people and stakeholders has been overwhelmingly positive, especially our live Q&A sessions with the First Minister.
Support for young people’s emotional wellbeing
In partnership with the Scottish Youth Parliament and YouthLink Scotland, we ran several surveys during 2020. These helped us and our partners to have a clear picture of the impact Covid-19 was having on young people.
A common theme that emerged from the surveys was the impact of Covid-19 restrictions on young people’s mental wellbeing. In response, the Scottish Government kindly supported us to launch #AyeFeel.
#AyeFeel is a curated collection of information and resources that support young people’s emotional wellbeing. The content helps young people understand that it’s perfectly normal to be dealing with fear, uncertainty, anger or sadness during difficult circumstances. It contains quality-assured information, expert advice and content made for young people by young people. It covers topics such as improving sleep, managing stress, productive ways to spend time online, coping with conflict, and who to contact for support.
As part of #AyeFeel, we launched our #AyeFeel Like Talking video conversations. We partnered with Sleep Scotland, Childline, Beat, Skills Development Scotland and YWCA Scotland and put young people’s questions to experts. The video series included episodes about returning to face-to-face learning, eating disorders, body image issues, face coverings and face-covering exemption stigma. We also launched #MindfulMondays – a series that encourages young people to make time for mindfulness – including yoga, breathing exercises and facial relaxation techniques.
The impact of lockdown restrictions on young people’s lives has already been enormous – and there is much more to come. Here at Young Scot, as restrictions change, we will continue to respond to young people’s evolving information and support needs – helping them navigate this period of enormous turmoil.