Coronavirus: Brent youngsters defying lockdown are bored, poor, or living in overcrowded homes, study finds

Connect Stars volunteers and Zaffar Van Kalwala in Stonebridge Picturet: Connect Stars

Connect Stars volunteers and Zaffar Van Kalwala in Stonebridge Picturet: Connect Stars - Credit: Archant

Poverty, boredom and overcrowded homes are among the reasons young people in Brent are defying lockdown rules, a local study shows.

Outreach work among youngsters has been carried out by youth charity Connect Stars, based in Stonebridge, supported by former councillor Zaffar Van Kalwala.

Volunteers have been out discovering why young people are not adhering to social distancing rules.

Working across Brent, including Stonebridge, Church Road, Chalk Hill, Wembley, Kingsbury and South Kilburn, they spoke to 130 young people aged between 13 – 24 years old.

They also gave out advice about the importance of complying with lockdown and social distancing regulations.

According to their research, the majority of those questioned said they were not staying indoors due to overcrowding, boredom or lack of physical activity.

Others decided to engage in anti-social behaviour, such as smoking cannabis, instead of being at home.

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The research also showed conditions worsening for Brent’s young people due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

A staggering 43 per cent of those polled said they needed more financial support either through vouchers or food drops.

Steven, 15, from Stonebridge, said: “A family member caught the coronavirus so six of my cousins moved into our two-bedroom flat, which meant there are nine of us in the property.

“I came to the park to get out of the house and get some fresh air.”

Volunteers were told that the borough needs more youth clubs, sports activities and jobs when the lockdown ends.

The outreach work results will feed into discussions with local stakeholders about formulating responses to Covid-19-related youth issues.

Kwame Kumaning, Connect Stars’ project co-ordinator, said: “The outreach work was focused on serving the community by reaching out to young people.

“It was essential to hear their voices and to find out why they were defying government orders.

“With the information we have gathered we are going to put in place measures with our partners to keep our community safe.”

Mr Van Kalwala added: “It’s really important to understand some of the worrying experiences young people have to go through because of this horrendous virus.

“I hope this helps to build support, including when the lockdown ends. We are all in this together, let’s not leave anyone behind.”