In his latest column for us, Tameside Radio Breakfast presenter Alex B Cann talks about the impact that being stuck indoors has had on young people in particular during the coronavirus pandemic.
We’re all sailing in choppy waters, and whilst the incredible progress of vaccinations in Tameside and Glossop provides some much needed hope, it still feels like our whole world’s been turned upside down. Everything we still took for granted a year ago is like a distant memory now.
I saw an interesting report on Channel 4 News this week that children as young as four and five are suffering extreme anxiety as a result of being stuck at home. ‘Children need children’ is the quote that stuck in my mind.
So many kids will be pining for their friends, and whilst I’m sure the majority of parents are doing their best when it comes to home schooling, I worry that damage to our youngsters’ mental health is something we’ve not considered sufficiently. As many as one in six kids apparently has struggled recently, with the figure as much as one in four in some age groups.
I’ve seen a definite change in my nephew Kayaan, who turns five in April. He was a keen swimmer from the age of three months right up until the start of the first lockdown. I remember him being at our house on the night Boris Johnson made his fateful address to the nation, and thinking how I envied him for not really understanding the implications of what was being announced.
Perhaps I was wrong, and underestimated him. As well as swimming, he loved kickboxing, jumping and going to arts venues such as Eureka in Halifax and Sea Life and Legoland in Manchester, as well as spending loads of time in the park. He’s become much more reluctant to leave the house, saying it’s ‘too scary’ or that he’s ‘too tired.’
Whilst he’s still a confident boy, I worry about the long term effects of so much time indoors. He does still go to school, as his mum’s a care worker, but misses his friends, and is certainly less socially confident.
I remember going to university back in the mid-90s, and the incredible social opportunities this offered. My first pub crawl on Smithdown Road (too much Newcastle Brown ale!), joining the Debating Society, nights in the Guild of Students dancing to Britpop... the experience was about so much more than my degree in Politics and Communication Studies. I really feel for students who have been confined to their rooms or laptops, and missed out on this life experience.
As I said at the start, we’re all on board this vessel, stuck in the doldrums (to borrow a nautical term), awaiting a gust of wind to blow us to shore. The vaccine numbers are staggering, and we’ll undoubtedly be well over seven million by the time this goes to press.
I don’t have the answers on whether schools should fully reopen, and I don’t envy those in power having to make the decisions, whatever their foibles. I just really worry about the long term effects on kids’ mental health. When my nephew asks ‘are we still in lockdown’ and he’s not even five yet, I wonder how their minds process a situation that all of us are struggling to fully understand.
I’d love to hear from you on Twitter, by email or on the phone at Tameside Radio, to find out how the pandemic is affecting your family. It’s so important to chat at the moment, and we’re here for you to tell your stories, in print and on the radio.
Take care, and if you need a smile this week, I recommend watching Fisherman’s Friends. Sea shanties are all the rage, and this movie is based on a true story about a group of fishermen who scored a top ten chart album in the most unlikely of circumstances!
It looks like another shanty is heading for the Official Top 10 tomorrow, with a Kid 220 dance remix which I’m a huge fan of. Perhaps we can get our very own Dan and Mark on the canal in Ashton singing a Stalybridge sea shanty! Stay safe, my hearties.