Whilst we’re adapting to the essential lifestyle changes that the Coronavirus has brought to the UK, the important role of young people in minimising the impact has been gradually getting more attention.
It won’t surprise you that we have a watchful eye on how this affects the futures of young people - and particularly the role of digital communications. Many, perhaps an entire generation have only recently begun to experience the UK NOT in recession for the first time in their adult lives, and the arrival of the virus will no doubt find other ways to impact their futures.
First Movers on WhatsApp
One of the things we’ve found most interesting is how young people and youth organisations in other countries across the world have mobilised. A first mover in early March was a collaboration between the Medical Research Council (MRC) of The Gambia and the country’s digital generation.The Gambia has a very dynamic and switched-on youth population, but the way society is constructed means extremely close ties exist between the young and old. WhatsApp is by far the most popular communications channel for all groups and young people were concerned about the way it was being used.
The Gambia has a very dynamic and digitally switched-on youth population, and traditional culture means extremely close ties exist between the young and old. WhatsApp is by far the most popular communications channel for all groups and young people were concerned about the way it was being used.
They've effectively re-structured the country’s public information service
Aware that the spread of incorrect information could be catastrophic to the country, young people initiated a public info campaign and have taken ownership of the ‘airwaves’ – digital natives have effectively re-structured the country’s Covid-19 public information service. They’ve created the content and are, in their numbers, taking responsibility to make sure it gets to young people and their families and communities in towns and even the most remote villages.
We can learn a lot from the ‘developing’ world – TV is a household channel - Mobile is individuals and their networks....
Well done! #TheGambia #DigitalDecade
Other examples of statements or actions:
Global Shapers, a network of young leaders under the age of 30, have already started sharing basic protective measures with their communities, translating vital resources into local languages, and launching campaigns to fight xenophobia and misinformation.
1. Stay informed and ensure others do too - As fear spreads faster than facts, inform yourself about the virus. Deepen your knowledge and point others to trusted information. This will go a long way to debunk myths and build resilience in your community.
2. Take action to keep your community safe - When you’re young and healthy, your risk of developing severe illness is lower. So consider those in your community who are most vulnerable, including older persons and persons with pre-existing medical conditions (such as high blood pressure, heart disease, lung disease, cancer or diabetes). Do your best to support them. Encourage others to take precautions, including washing your hands regularly, keeping a social distance from others and staying home when you’re sick.
3. Speak up to ensure your organisation does the right thing - Organisations and employers play a big role in combating the virus. Encourage your office to take precautions: for example, ensure spaces are clean and hygienic, promote regular hand-washing, test remote working and communicate clearly to employees.
There is no hierarchy to doing what’s right. You can be an influencer in your organisation by passing on vetted business messages from the WHO, focusing on accuracy and relevance, and acting collectively.
The British Youth Council continue to closely monitor developments relating to the spread of the Coronavirus, taking particular interest in the advice issued by the World Health Organisation, the UK Government, and Public Health England.
The health and safety of young people, our staff and volunteers remain of the utmost importance to the British Youth Council and we will continue to ensure we have considered any risks to our activities. With this in mind, we are undertaking proactive decision making about all our upcoming events and activities and will be redesigning our work to be delivered digitally wherever possible to ensure some continuity for young people.
The country is currently facing unprecedented circumstances, however, it remains important that we continue to empower young people to create social and political change.