Here & now: Dan Morrell
Stop blaming young people for Covid, says Dan Morrell
Imagine embarking on the biggest adventure of your life so far. You’ve been building up to this moment for years. You’re investing a lot of time, and indeed money, in it. You’re going to make new friends, learn a whole new subject, adopt a whole new style of learning. You’re just preparing for the final exams which will take you on this adventure. Then, BANG: a worldwide pandemic hits and casts doubt on the whole situation.
You’re then told, towards summer, that actually it’s OK, you can go on this adventure. It’ll be a little bit different, but still fundamentally the same. You’ve already paid your non-refundable deposit, or rent, and your first term’s worth of fees, so you’ve got to go with it now.
You therefore break the guidance you were given to not mix with other households and go and live with a bunch of new people. You’re all in this new situation, exploring a new way of living, living without your parents for the first time, in a new city. Suddenly, everyone you live with contracts the virus (surprise, surprise) and you’re confined to your 8x5ft room, having to meet new people still (because your next three years will depend on having at least some friends), joining societies and studying your whole course online.
You’ve probably figured out by now that this is the reality for thousands of students across the country – students who are being scapegoated as responsible for spreading the virus to all areas of society. Are they the cause of a rise in cases? Of course – but they actually are the rise in cases! Are they to blame for being placed in this catch 22 situation? No.
Sixteen to 24 year olds have suffered, since July, the largest drop in employment compared with other age groups. Those who are employed, primarily in hospitality, are exposed on a daily basis to the virus, just by virtue of being in work.
I’m not here to claim young people are totally faultless in the battle to curb the virus. But I have been most shocked when I have encountered Church folk joining this blame game…
Dan Morrell works as a media for ministry consultant and is a former United Reformed Church Youth Assembly Moderator danmorrell.me
This is an extract from an article published in the November 2020 edition of Reform