Head boy hits the headlines in national TV debate on Coronavirus

Friday 19 June 2020

Bolingbroke's head boy Yahya (centre) appeared in a Sky News documentary and debate, The Coronavirus Generation last week

A Bolingbroke Sixth form student has appeared on a national TV news debate about the challenges facing young people during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Head boy Yahya Mia, 17, took part in the recent Sky News programme, The Coronavirus Generation, which was hosted remotely by Dermot Murnaghan, and broadcast last Friday.

It aimed to analyse the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on Britain’s young people, a cohort who may forever be known as the Cornavirus generation. While the full effect of the virus and subsequent lockdown are not yet know, the social, economic and mental health effects could end up scarring some for the rest of their lives.

In the programme, Yahya and other young people described how their lives have been knocked off track by the Coronavirus, and how they are managing the situation.

Yahya at the Breadstall where he works five days a week to save money for university and to help his family financially

Yahya talked movingly of how at one point he was doing three jobs to help support his family financially, at the same time as trying to keep on top of his studies. He hopes to study geography at Queen Mary or Bristol University after a year abroad, but is relying on a bursary. If he doesn’t get the grades he needs, he may not end up getting that support.

"It would have a huge impact on me because it's something that is competitive to get. To support myself at uni, I'd have to probably work more than I do and get another job."

But Yahya already works five days a week at the Breadstall at Northcote Road to help save up for university and help out financially at home.  "It's necessary for me to work to keep the house running and support my family. Covid has put a lot of financial pressure on my family,” he said.

 

"You're going to work, you're doing 9 to 5 like an adult, you go home and have to give half of that money to your mum. It just seems strange to be living that adult persona and missing out on the celebration, it's all a bit rubbish really."

 

Yahya says he was introduced to the programme by Ms Orchin who mooted the idea at one of their weekly Teams calls, and it all snowballed from there.

 

A day of filming ensued, which Yahya says was “nerve-wracking” at first, though the "lovely" film crew helped him to relax. “This started with me filming at the Breadstall, and then at a local Estate basketball court. We finished the day with an interview where the team asked me about my thoughts and experiences during lockdown.”  Yahya says that one of the most difficult aspects of lockdown which he has spent with his mother and two brothers has been the lack of social interaction.

However, ever the optimist, he says he believes that the crisis has also opened new doors  “It has given people the opportunity to do things they might not otherwise have done. For myself this includes going cycling weekly with my friends, to learning new hobbies and crafting techniques alongside my girlfriend on FaceTime. Although there is a global pandemic going on I don’t think it is all doom and gloom!”

When he first found out that he wouldn't be able to sit his A levels, he admits his initial reaction was one of relief, but that was quickly followed by a feeling of deep frustration. "It is very worrying knowing that our grades are in the hands of a simple calculated grading system. I am gutted that I couldn’t complete the exams, not just to have the opportunity to prove what I could have achieved, but also to celebrate the last two year so hard work at the end. But if that’s the best way forward then there’s nothing but hoping for the best and waiting for results day.”

Yayha believes that ultimately Covid-19 will have an impact upon young people, but they will cope with the challenge it presents.  “We are a resilient and ever changing group of youth as shown by the recent climate change and BLM protests. We will stand up against these issues and hopefully some of us will solve them in the future. I am very hopeful for our generation and know we’ll beat Covid.”