Young people in Wigan taking part in new campaign to change the narrative of how they have coped during the Covid-19 pandemic
School pupils and college students in the region, who have returned to classes in recent weeks, feel like the general narrative has ignored how many of them have coped with the challenges in the last 18 months.
With the help of the Greater Manchester Health and Social Care Partnership, they are now able to tell their side of the story through the Changing the Narrative: Unmasked and Stronger Than Ever campaign.
Prof Sandeep Ranote, Interim Greater Manchester Medical Executive lead for mental health, said: “Throughout the pandemic a bleak picture has been painted of the situation our young people are returning to, as we gradually overcome coronavirus. For some we must recognise their worries and the challenges.
“However, that’s far from the whole story. We must not overlook the strength young people have shown, the ways in which they have been able to adapt, and how many have remained optimistic while facing previously unimagined challenges.
“We must not tell young people about their circumstances, instead we need to listen and give them the chance to tell us what they think and feel about the pandemic, and Changing the Narrative: Unmasked and Stronger than Ever does just that.
“It gives young people a way to tell us what the pandemic has really been like for them. If we don’t listen, we’ll miss the positives that exist alongside the challenges and our presumptions about young people will become self-fulfilling prophecies.
“This is not the generation lost in lockdown, it is the generation who learned through lockdown.”
Local teenagers have found their voice through art, poetry and film, after telling mental health professionals that the way their negative experiences are being discussed has added to their anxiety.
The different activities have helped to show how they have developed as people, become stronger, and discovered skills they didn’t know they had, as well as acknowledging the tough times.
Students from four colleges in Wigan and Rochdale worked together to plan the campaign and choose a name, and with the help of a videographer, they created a short film.
The work is now being made available to others on the Greater Manchester repository, in the hope the resources will inspire others to add to a library that will document these unusual times from a young person’s perspective.
William Powell, a student at St John Rigby College in Wigan, said: “It has not been all the doom and gloom that you see on the six o’clock news. It’s been. for some people, quite an interesting experience, because they don’t normally get as much free time to develop personal skills.
“I’d like to think that the Covid Generation would be something that’s seen as more of a positive than a negative. And we’ll be seen as people who did have that resilience and did keep on going.”
School pupils and college students will continue adding to the platform throughout the autumn in the run up to a formal launch of the campaign at an event in November 2021.