14th May 2020

Lockdown experiences: Members from Cambs Youth Panel who are helping to get more children digitally connected

Cambs Raspberry Pi computers

We spoke to eight young people from the Cambs Youth Panel about their experiences of being in lockdown. The group has been raising money to set up a distribution scheme for Raspberry Pi boxes so more children are connected digitally and are able to progress in their education.

Arun, 14, said: “Many children can’t access computers like we can. So all the assets that we have online that the teachers pull up and put lots of effort in putting it together, they just can’t access. It puts them in even more of a vulnerable position.”

Hannah, aged 14, said that she thinks she is learning better as she can go at her own pace. But she still feels like it’s a “weird changeand doesn’t like that she can’t just go out and see friends.”

Ayra, 16, said that normally there would be extra help with school work, but  now she has to find alternative ways to get one-to-one help.

Fran, 17, who is studying fashion, said that college work which is working really well for her. There is support when she’s struggling and everything seems to work as everyone wants to learn.

Oliver, 16, who was meant to take his GCSEs, said, “I am not sure how I feel about it.” For him, all the studying “was a bit of a waste”. It would be nice to prove something by doing the exams but part of him was also dreading them. It’s also difficult to know whether he should be working now as he “can’t change (the teachers’) mind about the grade”.

Alex sometimes wonders if he’s done enough work because it’s not possible now to measure your work with that of other people. “At school, you know how you’re doing compared to everyone else”. Also, some lessons don’t seem to be challenging enough. You can tell the difference when effort was put in to make the one hour lesson challenging, and when it wasn’t.

Hannah would also like to be able to actually see her friends. She said if she doesn’t, she feels disconnected. And that has been the hardest part for her.

Jonathan, 13, hasn’t been able to see his grandparents which has been difficult.

Alex, 14, said he was fortunate to live in the countryside and was able to go outside for walks and bike rides.

Oliver was meant to go to Barcelona and to Cambridge Pride and it’s annoying that he can’t go now.

Ayra was looking forward to going to school prom. They were looking forward to these celebrations but the “sense of finality was taken away”.

The group told us that they are worried about children who are feeling trapped and isolated at home. It would make this difficult time even harder for children who have issues at home and impact their mental health. Oliver’s heart goes out to LGBTQ kids at home with parents who don’t accept them.

For some children school is their escape and now with the summer holidays coming up it must be awful being stuck inside. They were thinking about something to help these children escape. Noise cancelling headphones could be a new project to start thinking about…

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