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Supporting Young people through COVID 19 and Mental Health Issues
Citizen Outreach Coalition has been supporting young people and giving them a safe space to talk about the challenges and mental health issues they faced because of COVID 19 and lockdown. During a meeting at PowerHouse, a housing complex which provides temporary supported accommodation services for young people in Toxteth Liverpool, some were advised to continue pursuing their dreams despite the complications brought on by COVID 19. “Life still continues and you cannot put your dreams on hold” Youth Support Housing Officer Francis Langley the main workshop facilitator told the young residents. “Dream on” he continued. Mr Langley was speaking to the young people on Wednesday August 10 2021 as part of a series of mental health awareness workshops organised by Citizen Outreach Coalition Coalition (COC) to help young people face up to problems caused by COID 19 and the various lockdowns. The workshops were funded with a grant from The National Lottery Community Fund.
At the start of the workshop, a short video titled 10 Mental Illness signs you should not ignore was projected in the hall to help set the tone of the discussions. The video explains some of the feelings we all have sometime in our lives from being sad, anxious or scared which are normal emotions that could develop into a mental illness if they last for more than two weeks or continuously. Some of the ten signs include; extreme mode swings, anxiety, isolating and withdrawing from others, hallucinations and difficulties dealing with normal life situations.
Speaking at the start of the workshop, COC Project Manager Francis Ngwa said the organisation designed the project to support young people emerge from the difficulties brought on by COVID. “We all suffered some form of mental health issues but things are especially hard for young people who may have little or no family support during these trying times and just need a shoulder to lean on. We hope to support these young people to know they always have someone who cares”, he added.
How COVID affected young people
When asked by Mr Langley to give their experiences of how COVID 19 affected them personally, most of the young people said they had to suspend their dreams of either continuing school, joining the army or pursuing their dream job because of the lockdowns. One of the residents said she still hoped to continue her education since lockdown measures had mostly been lifted but she still struggled to get accommodation due to limited social housing space. Another very worried resident said his fears were he may never realize his dream to join the army. COVID 19 he said caused him quite a lot of problems leading to a massive lack of confidence to do anything worthwhile for himself. Mr Langley reminded all the attendees not to give up on their dreams and to pursue every dreathey had now with renewed vigour because “time waits for no man”.
In conclusion, Mr Langley reminded all the young people to get their priorities right, stop giving excuses and ride on. He advised them to take a page from his own story which was arriving in the UK as a refugee and doing every kind of job he came across to survive. “You guys have support I could only dream of so try and use it well, he said. He gave examples of some other young people he had supported who at one point were in the same situation they found themselves now but who take the advice he gave them, faced their demons and were now doing very well in life. “You too can do that”, he concluded.
More workshops will be happening in the weeks and months ahead.