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Cabinet Blog – Young People’s Experiences throughout the COVID-19 Pandemic

Ilse Cutherbertson MSYP is holding a tablet showing a videochat with the First Minister, Nicola Sturgeoon.
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Hiya I’m Ilse Cuthbertson MSYP for Carers Trust Scotland. Last month I along with 6 other MSYPs got the amazing chance to speak at Cabinet. This was a great experience and I am so glad I had the opportunity to speak at Cabinet. 

Although I was so excited, I still had a whole bunch of nerves, but this did not stop the experience being overall amazing. My speech focused on young people’s experience with the covid 19 pandemic, and I spoke about my own experiences briefly as a young carer! 

Here’s my speech:

“Hello, firstly I would just like to say that we as young people all understand the stresses and strains that everyone including the government minister are under, this time has been challenging for everyone.

This pandemic has been particularly tough on young people as we are at pivotal points in our lives, that will truly affect our futures. I want to take this opportunity to highlight some of the key issues we have faced over the past year and will continue to face if action isn’t taken.

A young person who took part in our lockdown lowdown survey said  “it has turned us all into isolated, sad and unproductive versions of ourselves. Its unhealthy and mentally challenging to have no social interaction.”

Stress, sad, isolated, anxious, and lonely are some more words that relate to how this pandemic has made young people feel. As a young carer I have felt all these emotions and more every single day, and its been tough.

My mind has constantly been focused on keeping the person I care for safe, I get nervous going to the shops in case I bring the virus back home,

I understand that everyone felt this way at some point, but this is how I feel all the time, constantly worried and anxious about the what ifs.

Education has been a worrying time, due to the pool of uncertainties. I am a university student on the final year of my degree, trying to look to the future, but I cant see past today because I don’t know if I have done all this work for nothing. I am staying up late trying to complete assignments and my dissertation, getting up early to care for my loved one, this isn’t healthy, but there isn’t another way forward.

Primary school pupils, secondary school pupils, college and university students haven’t had this easy, loosing out on exams, extra strain at home to ensure they are getting the grades to move on, working in environments that wasn’t prepared to be a study zone and the unknown.

Many of both the short term and the long term issues surrounding mental health and education still need actioned as well as many other problems that are affecting young people as a result of the pandemic.

From employment to youth work, social contact to being able to play sports. The list goes on. We know you are taking steps to ensure young Peoples’s voices are heard. For example, I sit on the  Scottish Government’s Mental Health Equalities and Human Rights forum to represent the experiences and concerns of my peers. 

But so many young peoples voices have not been heard in the response to COVID-19. Our voices haven’t always been at the heart of decisions affecting us, which can lead to both our rights and our futures being put at risk.  . young people are our future, so lets ensure they feel supported to focus on their futures.

My call to you today is to really listen to our speeches and to remember our calls. Scotland’s young people not only face a disproportionate impact from the pandemic, but will be living with its consequences for the longest. So if you take one thing away from today, I hope it is our ask to keep our voices and our rights at the heart of our nations recovery from this crisis.

Mollie and Brooke will now go on to talk about some to the short and long term actions young people believe should be taken to achieve this. Thank you.”

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