Groundwork UK

NEWS: Young people have been affected by lockdown – but with the right support they can prosper

Growing evidence suggests that young people have been among the worst affected by lockdown, with many working in disrupted industries, put on furlough schemes and at risk of redundancy. The Office for National Statistics estimated that the number of unemployed 16 to 24-year olds increased by 47,000 on the year while other age groups remained steady. But for those young people who were already unemployed and trying to get into work before the crisis, times have been especially tough.

Community charity Groundwork UK has recently commissioned a research report to find out more about how young people enrolled on youth employment programme, Progress – a tailored programme of coaching and support to help NEET young people access training and employment opportunities – have coped during lockdown.

Read the full learning report 

61% of programme participants reported that lockdown has had a negative impact on their lives, with one in five reporting more severe mental health impacts that needed external support.

The programme has adapted delivery in a number of ways to ensure young people stay engaged on the programme and help those enrolled to keep motivated and maintain a healthy mindset during this challenging time.

Progress Coaches are working with young people remotely, ensuring they are in regular contact online and via telephone. Regular video-chat sessions are helping young people stay in contact with their peers and coaches are devising engagement activities such as online yoga and mental health sessions. Young people are also being set daily tasks – from exercise to creativity – to ensure that they stay engaged and focused, including receiving care packages and activity packs including plant growing and arts and crafts kits.

Key findings

The report found:

  • For young people, the most valuable aspect of the support during lockdown has been the continued contact with their Progress Coach, which has been reassuring and given them someone to talk to whenever they need it. Out of those surveyed, 95% of young people found the support they have received from their Progress Coach to be ‘just right – they are always there when I need them’.
  • The main focus of support has been on participants’ wellbeing and mental health, as well as on maintaining their engagement with Progress with 54% of young people surveyed receiving mental health or wellbeing support.
  • The economic impact of lockdown has made it harder for young people to achieve their goals, with fewer programme participants progressing into work or further education.
  • There is potential for a significant increase in demand for programmes like Progress as lockdown lifts, particularly from young people who have left education this summer.

Selasi, 18, who is enrolled on Progress, has benefitted from having regular conversations with his Progress Coach.

“Before I joined Progress, I would never have had a someone phone me just to ask how I am. Having Abu – Progress Coach – call me really helps me to stay motivated. I’ve been working to improve my graphic design skills as that’s a job I want to do in the future. Being on Progress it’s helped me to stay focused on my goal. I’ve also had the opportunity to improve my maths and English skills and get involved in other activities, such as yoga and fitness.”

Jonas, 21,  also appreciates the support he has received during lockdown.

“I live on my own, so I don’t have that many people to talk to. When Abu – Progress Coach – phones me just to check in and see how I am I instantly feel better. I’m really happy with all the opportunities I have had, and I’ve been working to get my maths and English qualifications. When I wake up, I’m happy to be doing something positive – it’s life changing.”

Abu Sufian Miah, Progress Coach, said:

“Young people enrolled on Progress have found lockdown particularly hard, especially those who also live with complex needs. We have maintained engagement using a variety of methods, including regular telephone conversations as well as online and social media interaction in order to keep young people motivated and engaged. This has given Progress Coaches the opportunity to be creative in how and what we do to engage young people and ensure that they have the right support when they need it most.”

The findings reinforce the vital importance of youth support post-lockdown that Groundwork put to the government following the Chancellor’s announcement last week.

Graham Duxbury, national chief executive, Groundwork, said:

“Progress highlights the importance of a flexible and tailored approach to supporting young people. Now more than ever, we need to ensure young people have someone to turn to so that they can maintain their motivation and come through a crisis which is having such a detrimental impact on their studies, mental health and employment prospects.

“We’re really pleased that the Chancellor has made a decisive step in funding programmes to prevent youth unemployment and we look forward to seeing more detail. In particular we want to ensure that those young people who are furthest removed from the labour market get the personal support and training they need to take up the jobs created through the Government’s Kickstart scheme.”

Progress is a tailored programme of coaching and employment support aimed at young people who are the furthest away from the job market and have additional needs such as caring responsibilities, mental health issues or substance dependency. The programme is led by community charity Groundwork UK and delivered through a partnership of 11 organisations that specialise in supporting young people.

The programme is part of the Building Better Opportunities initiative and is funded by the European Social Fund and The National Lottery Community Fund.


Notes to Editors

For further information, please contact media@groundwork.org.uk or call 07793844627.

About Progress
Progress offers a tailored programme of coaching and support to help NEET young people access training and employment opportunities. Progress is targeted at those who are the furthest away from getting work, training or back into education. It does this by providing one-to-one help to find a job, to get them back into education or to support the delivery of practical living skills, mental health support and maths and English qualifications: www.groundwork.org.uk/progress

About Groundwork
Groundwork is a charity working locally and nationally to transform lives in the UK’s most disadvantaged communities. We’re passionate about creating a future where every neighbourhood is vibrant and green, every community is strong and able to shape its own destiny and no one is held back by their background or circumstances. We help people gain confidence and skills, get into training and work, protect and improve green spaces, lead more active lives and overcome significant challenges such as poverty, isolation, low skills and poor health. For more information visit: www.groundwork.org.uk

About Building Better Opportunities 
The National Lottery Community Fund is the largest community funder in the UK – we’re proud to award money raised by National Lottery players to 6 of 8 communities across England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Since June 2004, we have made over 200,000 grants and awarded over £9 billion to projects that have benefited millions of people. We’re privileged to be able to work with the smallest of local groups right up to UK-wide charities, enabling people and communities to bring their ambitions to life.

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Progress has received £5,636,800 of funding from The National Lottery Community Fund and the European Social Fund as part of the 2014-2020 European Structural and Investment Funds Growth Programme in England. The Department for Work and Pensions is the Managing Authority for the England European Social Fund programme. Established by the European Union, the European Social Fund helps local areas stimulate their economic development by investing in projects which will support skills development, employment and job creation, social inclusion and local community regenerations. For more information visit: https://www.gov.uk/european-growth-funding