As our young people head back to school and college or embark on the next stage of their journey, it’s a good time to reflect on the impact of Covid-19 on their well-being and what we need to do to address the various impacts.

More than half of our young people are worried about their future and a third say their mental health got worse as a result of the Covid-19 and the lockdown.

These are just two of the findings from a survey of 150 young people on our programme. We wanted to discover how the pandemic had affected them, and also use the findings to help us ensure we’re providing the best ongoing support.

London Year 12 student Fabiha said: ‘Lockdown took a toll on my well-being. I didn’t go out much, just for walks, with school being the main thing I missed – the learning, my friends and my teachers.

‘Coach’s calls are the highlights of my week, I bottle up all the things I want to talk to him about and when we speak it feels like a weight has been lifted off my shoulders. When I feel a bit low, my coach has helped me to pick myself up again.’

A study by the National Foundation for Educational Research found that the average pupil lost three months of learning during lockdown, but that more than half of pupils at schools in the most deprived areas lost four months or more.

Our survey results suggest some reasons why some students were more adversely affected. It showed that many of our young people didn’t have access to technology or study space during their time out of school and college. For example, 36% of respondents would have liked a quiet area to learn and 31% had issues with internet access/data.

Looking ahead, there is recognition that it could be harder to get a job. Connor, a student in Kent who has just started Year 12, said: ‘I do worry more about my future now. I watch the news and see that a lot of businesses are facing uncertainty, there will be fewer jobs and no-one knows how long Britain will take to recover. I know that young people looking for jobs will be badly affected by the economic impact of Covid-19 but because I’m with ThinkForward and work with my coach I’m confident that I’m better prepared than many of them.’

We were delighted that young people felt they had been well-supported by their coach during lockdown, scoring us four out of five. In addition, 35% of young people said their coach was their main support provider and 25% said being connected with their coach helped them maintain their mental well-being.

After a long absence from their education and disruption in their lives, we know that many of our young people might need supported in different ways. As we start the autumn term, Ashley McCaul, ThinkForward’s CEO said: ‘We’ve used the findings from our survey to inform how we develop our programme to make sure our coaches are meeting new needs and supporting young people back to school and college. I’m sure times will still be challenging, but I’m confident we can all adapt and positively embrace the start of the new term.’

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