Youth isolation has been amplified by the restrictions in society due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Youth workers and teachers have encountered many challenges in their attempts to reach out to isolated and vulnerable young people. Some of the most important challenges for youth workers and teachers include:
- Youth isolation due to COVID-19. The current social climate caused by COVID-19 creates uncertainty, feelings of alienation and frustration for young people. In some cases, this has led to isolation. The pandemic has highlighted the most vulnerable cases, especially in socially and economically deprived areas across Europe.
- Social exclusion and threat of radicalisation. There are serious long-term effects of isolation for those within the hardest-hit communities. Isolation also can lead to segregation, and this may well inhibit the development of important social skills of young people. Long-term Social exclusion for a longer period of time could make young people more susceptible to radicalisation and create a fertile soil for extremist recruitment. Extremist groups play into the above-mentioned feelings and have aimed their recruitment strategies towards these vulnerable youngsters
- Prevent radicalisation. Teachers and youth workers have a key role in identifying vulnerable youngsters at risk of radicalisation and consequently to develop multi-agency–based interventions.
- Using digital means to combat youth isolation. Young people are more online now than ever before, which creates challenges and opportunities. COVID-19 has made vulnerable young people often ignored by society more invisible in the physical world. However, many youngsters are visible online. By developing local networks that utilise digital platforms, reaching previously hard-to-reach isolated youth has now become a possibility. One challenge for teachers and youth workers is how to create a synergy between the other stakeholders(e.g. social work, local municipalities, community or religious figures, or mental health organisations/professionals) .