Youth and the Pandemic: How we coped through volunteering

The impact of the COVID 19 pandemic in young people has been colossal as over 60% of the world’s learners have been affected by school and university closures and at the same time the youth has emerged as leading agents of communities’ responses worldwide. For this reason it was important to organise a discussion covering the specificities of this topic.

For this “Coffee With…” 3 prominent young people were invited working in the field of youth and volunteering in continental Europe. Giulia Bordin, a young project officer in the Centre for European Volunteering that focuses on volunteering at every level, from grass-root initiatives to institutional policy-making in the field provided her input on the topic along with Nami Isaki a board member of the Advisory Council on Youth of the Council of Europe and Panagiotis Chatzimichail, a board member of the European Youth Forum with more than 8 years of experience in the youth field at a local, national and international level.

The speakers, presenting their involvement with non-formal education and youth activities at a local, national and international level as well as the reaction of their organisations to the new conditions, talked about the consequences that the pandemic has had for young people, in the fields of education and social life. It was pointed out that although the functioning of youth organisations suffered a great impact from the closing of borders and the freeze of all international mobilities, inspirational activities were also taking place. Some groups of young people were doing care-packages for the elderly, others took the time to go to the countryside and clean out the trash thrown around, others opened study groups online for their peers so they can rely on each other throughout the study sessions in the exam period, and numerous countless other initiatives from young people that helped each other get through that hard time.

This “Coffee with” showed that since the beginning of the crisis, youth did not act as mere spectators and disempowered citizens. Quite the opposite, youth reacted as front-line responders, tackling the spread of the virus and mitigating the many consequences of the pandemic.