Collaborating our way through COVID-19

Impetus Christmas 2020 Small

As we look back on the year we know it has been tough, especially so for young people who have been hit first and hardest by the economic impacts of the pandemic.

But our young people are resilient and inventive. We’ve seen many of them meet the hurdles that 2020 has thrown at them head on and overcome them with ingenuity.

Getting inventive

Millie is one such person. She needed a computer to be able to study for her Level 2 qualifications. When the pandemic hit and her college set up remote learning, her need for a computer became more urgent. To raise the money she needed, Millie tried to find a job. Not through lack of trying, she was unsuccessful; for many young people the opportunities simply aren’t there.

But she didn’t give up. With the help of her college tutor, Millie set up a crowd funding page and used the money to build her own computer so that she could carry on attending her classes online.

Earlier this year Millie took part in the EY Foundation programme where she was supported to develop her employability skills, ensuring that she has the confidence she needs to secure a job when she is next looking for work.

Collaborating is crucial

Our charity partners have had to get inventive too, rapidly adapting their programmes to deliver meals to hungry children, to enable learning to continue online and to check-in individually with thousands of home-bound children. They are delivering in new ways to support our young people during these turbulent times. We’ve never been prouder to work shoulder-to-shoulder with them to ensure their support has continued when many other services have closed.

And we’ve been working with peers in the sector, government and policy makers too, to help young people from disadvantaged backgrounds to get the best support during COVID-19 and its aftermath. We helped to develop the National Tutoring Programme to bring high-quality tutoring to young people to help them catch up after months of school closures this year.

Even with the right qualifications though, young people from disadvantaged backgrounds have a difficult time ahead finding a job. So this year we also co-founded the Youth Employment Group (YEG) to bring together experts from the sector to help drive the UK’s response and get our young people the opportunities they need to succeed in work.

Yes, this year has been tough for young people from disadvantaged backgrounds and next year may be even tougher. Our young people will still be catching up from extended periods out of school and risk falling even further behind their better-off peers. Exam grading will affect their chances of going to university. And jobs will still be impacted, with our young people continuing to find themselves out of work.

But 2020 has shown us that even in the most adverse circumstances, if we work together, we can deliver good things for young people. We can give them the means, confidence and skills to help them to scale even the highest of hurdles.

2021 – we are ready for you!

Eleanor Harrison OBE is the Chief Executive of Impetus.

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