Council thanks young people for their ‘sacrifice’ during Covid pandemic

Nusrat Ghani
FUNDING AGREED: At Kent County Council Headquarters in Maidstone

The sum will go towards the Reconnect: Kent Children and Young People programme, which encourages the users of the programme to focus on opportunities which they can take advantage of, rather than the negative impact which the pandemic has had on their futures.

The programme launched in March this year and aims to help Kent’s children and young people reconnect to their health and happiness; learning which they may have missed; family, friends and community; sport, activities and the outdoors; and economic wellbeing.

Through the programme, each child and young person will be able to engage with the type of activity that will benefit them the most while lockdown lifts.

Pupils who wish to make up for learning missed might choose to enrol in a summer school, while youngsters who want to give their physical health a boost after multiple periods of lockdown could be encouraged back to a sport they love, or given the chance to take up a new type of activity, perhaps outdoors in the fresh air.

There will be activities that focus on improving mental health, wellbeing and happiness, and opportunities for social interaction with family, friends and members of the community who may not have seen one another face to face for more than a year.

Other parts of the programme will focus on promoting economic wellbeing and boosting young people’s employment potential. Support will also be available for anyone within the age range who has lost a loved one to Covid.

Sue Chandler, Kent County Council’s Cabinet Member for Integrated Children’s Services, explained the council’s hopes for the programme: “The younger generation has sacrificed so much over the past 15 months, putting their social lives with friends and family on hold, staying indoors rather than playing or exercising outside, and missing out on many months of the routine of in-school learning.

“They did this to keep their loved ones safe – as they were at a much higher risk of becoming seriously ill with Covid than the children and young people themselves – and this is Kent’s chance to give something back to them.

“I would like to once again appeal to every Kent resident: Please tell us how you would like to contribute to this exciting programme.

“Think about whether you could run an activity or spare a few hours a month to volunteer at a local club or at your child’s school.

“Perhaps you have a sports ground or a child-friendly premises that isn’t in use every day. Could your employer donate computer or sports equipment or other items? Is there an opportunity to offer a young person some work experience at your organisation?

“Any offer of help that would contribute towards the aims of the Reconnect programme would be gratefully received.”

The Cabinet voted to provide £10million to the Reconnect programme and had already agreed at a previous meeting that £5.3million Holiday Activities and Food [HAF] funding [money used to provide food and activities to disadvantaged children and young people during school holidays] would come under the Reconnect umbrella, and money from additional funding streams will be added to the total as it becomes available.

Reconnect will operate until the end of August 2022 and will cover all age groups from birth through to the end of secondary school and on to the age of 24 for young people with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities [SEND], and specifically for employment-related activity.

Local community knowledge will be used to ensure money is spent in the most effective ways in each area of Kent.

For more information and to support the project, visit

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