Municipalities asked to do more for young people during pandemic

The association of Dutch municipalities VNG called on its members to do more for young people and organize activities for them, including during New Year’s. Young people are disproportionately affected by the coronavirus crisis, and their municipalities have to make sure they still have perspective, Paul Depla, Breda mayor and head of a VNG working group that investigated the social consequences of the pandemic on young people, said to NOS.

Young people have four major problems during the coronavirus, Depla said. “They often feel lonely, they are bored, they cannot finish their education properly, and they actually have the idea that they don’t care about their own future anymore.”

Many middle-aged people underestimate the impact the pandemic has on young people, Depla said. “If you look at which group is most affected by the reduction in social contacts, it is young people. If you look at the number of people who lost a job and income, young people score highest. When it comes to loneliness and stress, then you see that the problems are very big for young people,” he said.

Young people themselves only have a small chance of becoming seriously ill with the coronavirus, but society still demands massive sacrifices from them. It is therefore necessary to give something back, for example by organizing some activities for them. “And it’s not just about New Year’s Eve, because it strikes me that it seems as if we want to only organize activities to prevent young people from rioting. You have to organize activities to give young people perspective, to get them out of boredom.”

In Depla’s own municipality, various activities were arranged under the name Winter Chills. These include things like DJ schools in neighborhoods, sports and e-sports tournaments, and a TikTok challenge for younger children. The Breda mayor called on municipalities to share ideas and examples with each other, so that they can learn from each other.