The news is full of the effects of the Covid pandemic, whether that be health, economic, the way people now work, travel or communicate. A hot topic since the new year has been how the vast majority of our education system has moved online. Feedback from parents in the town (including myself!) is that Shepton schools have done a fantastic job in a very short space of time embracing the world of Google Classrooms and similar, to enable children’s education to continue in some form. And for the parents? Well, we’re all learning again; learning what the kids have to learn and also learning how difficult it is to keep them motivated!
Which leads me onto something that I think hasn’t been talked about too much; the effect of an extended lockdown on young people’s social life (or lack of) and how they are coping emotionally.
Last week, one of our Town Councillors, Abi McGuire, herself a mother of two children at St Pauls, attended a meeting with various youth activity co-ordinators in the town. The meeting was attended by the YMCA, the Mendip One Team, Somerset Activity & Sports Partnership (SASP), the Violence Reduction Unit (local PCSO) and Young Somerset, and aimed to get an overview of what is happening for young people locally, share information, see where projects or initiatives could be better linked up and explore new ideas of how to support young people.
It was a highly productive discussion that outlined the many projects in our town (some of which have been paused due to the pandemic but will be restarted later) that will support young people to socialise, network and develop themselves. There is much detail still to be worked out but the Town Council looks forward to continuing discussions which will lead to some specific positive outcomes for our town’s youth. Part of the process will be to deeply understand what our young people want and need, which means they need to be consulted directly and be at the heart of whatever we do. Watch this space. But in the meantime, if you have any ideas or want to get involved, please drop a line to our office (firstname.lastname@example.org) and let us know how you could contribute.
Have a safe week, and remember, Hands, Face, Space!
Matt Harrison, Chairperson
Shepton Mallet Town Council