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Experiences of young people in Suffolk during COVID-19

24 Mar 2021 1:30PM

A report by the University of Suffolk has highlighted the impact of COVID-19 upon young people. It suggests that there will be long term effects on young people because of lockdown that go far beyond the basic loss of learning time in schools. 

The research entitled Corona Collections: Suffolk young people’s experiences during COVID 19 and the transition back to education was commissioned by the Ipswich Opportunity Area and the Bishop of St Edmundsbury and Ipswich on behalf of a group of community leaders who were also behind the 2019 report investigating Young People’s Perceptions of Provision and Opportunities in Suffolk.

The authors of the report Katie Tyrrell, Research Associate at the University and Lanai-Collis Phillips, Volunteering Matters, said that the research, which looked in depth at the response of young people on a weekly basis to their experiences, uncovered a range of effects on young people’s perceptions, behaviour, welfare and opportunities.

In particular:

  • recognition that the changed relationships, circumstances and wellbeing of young people need to be considered by all organisations working alongside them,
  • return to education is complex and nuanced with excitement at the thought of ‘normality‘ in conjunction with pressure to ‘catch up’,
  • young people felt marginalised and forgotten in the discussion around global events which impact on their experience,
  • lockdown gave an opportunity for young people to reflect on education, their aspirations and expectations for the future, which will require careful consideration by those helping young people into the next stage of their careers.

Katie Tyrrell said “Not all the effects were negative, but the research revealed that young people were generally adversely affected during the pandemic with isolation, worries about family and school and underlying fears about their long-term prospects.”

Richard Lister, Chair of the Ipswich Opportunity Area said “As children return to school, we have to recognise that in Ipswich we started with major inequalities in opportunity and outcomes for our young people. The Opportunity Area initiative had begun to change that, but those inequalities will have been made worse by the pandemic which the findings of this report suggest. We must work much harder now to readdress this and improve the social mobility of young people or we risk a lost generation.”

Martin Seeley, Bishop of St Edmundsbury and Ipswich added “This report highlights the difficulties faced by young people during this time, alongside the sacrifices they have made and the losses they have suffered during this pandemic. We owe it to them, and to the whole of our society, not just to rebuild the lives and opportunities of young people, but to work with them to do it differently. I am calling on community leaders to listen to young people and work with them to develop solutions and ways of working that are expressed and endorsed by young people and not imposed on them. We all need to work together for a better future – and if we involve young people now we will build better solutions for all of us.”

“Young people must be involved in working out what we want to build, and how to build it, for our future here in Suffolk.  Working together with young people where they are active participants in the process of planning for businesses, jobs, social amenities, and well-being provision we believe will enable us together to recover more quickly and build opportunities that are more resilient.”

Alongside our call to action for a community of participation with our young people, we have put together a list of national and international resources (including co-production toolkits, children’s rights and participation guides and advice on best methods of including young people in decision making and service development). We have also included a few examples of local examples of co-production*.”


Co-production, Participation and Children’s Rights – A list of toolkits, guidance and advice on youth engagement and coproduction *Please note: This list is by no means extensive, and inclusion does not equate to endorsement. If you would like to add further examples of resources, guides, toolkits or case studies, please contact Katie:


University of Suffolk Press Office