Northern Ireland’s young people must be involved in decisions affecting their lives as the Covid-19 lockdown eases.
The Northern Ireland Youth Forum (NIYF), which represents their interests, said its research has shown young people suffering from boredom, anxiety and feelings of isolation since measures were introduced to stem the spread of the virus.
NIYF Deputy Director Phil Glennon said: “The Covid-19 pandemic has exacerbated what was already a mental health crisis among young people. It is vital that the First Minister and Deputy First Minister ensure that their voices are heard as Northern Ireland emerges from lockdown.”
The NIYF conducted two surveys during the Covid-19 pandemic focusing on the feelings of young people as Northern Ireland entered and prepared to come out of lockdown.
Respondents felt that their views have not been considered, with 88% stating the importance of young people being part of the decision-making process.
NIYF Political Champion and North Down MLA, Rachel Woods said it was clear that young people must be consulted in any decisions on their future, post lockdown.
She added: “The NIYF has consistently called for a meaningful Youth Conference with the Executive in which the views of young people are heard. I completely support that and will also be pushing for the establishment of a Youth Assembly that was promised many years ago. Young people are still waiting, and they should not have to wait any longer.”
The NIYF surveys revealed that the main issues facing young people were mental health, boredom, education and learning, isolation and loneliness and fear and uncertainty. Post lockdown the main things that young people are worried about are socialising with their friends, adjusting to new measures and health and wellbeing.