Why I supported the Young People of Liverpool

This was the picture that hit the headlines yesterday but it is not representative of the young people of our City most of whom observe the constraints of Covid-19 at a time which should be one of freedom, joy and the making of new friends

Yesterday the press, both local and national was full of pictures and stories about the misbehaviour of young people in the City and how they had brought shame on us all.

Even looking at the photographs provided which came from just one location, this was clearly a massive overkill! The pictures clearly showed a small crowd misbehaving. At the most perhaps 150 youngsters.

I was contacted by a taxi driver who had been in the area. The Fleet Street/Concert Square area had been relatively quiet all night. It was after all a cold and wet evening. 10.00 came and most people were drifting away when a TV crew from Norway came on the scene. It would appear that they encouraged a small section to the young people to misbehave for the cameras. After all they had come a long way to get a story! According to my source none of the accents that were heard that night were Scouse ones.

This isn’t either an attack on the media or a defence of those who misbehaved. The media does what it does. The actions of the young people concerned was wholly unacceptable with a possibility of the spread of a Virus which might not affect the young people concerned too badly but could lead to transmission of the virus to frailer and more susceptible people.

But the way the story was told by some was that this was typical of the behaviour of our local young people and I can tell you from my own observations that it isn’t. There are approximately 90,000 people in the City aged between 18 and 25. It is of course a high proportion because that includes up to 60,000 students most of whom come from outside the City. 200 (ish) caused trouble 89,980 didn’t. The facts speak for themselves!

As I go round my own area, which I rarely leave these days, its not the actions of young people that bother me most. It’s the behaviour of older people who think it their right to do what they want on things like masking. They are either virus deniers or feel that this is an attack on their civil liberties. When challenged they get most offensive often launching into swearing because they are unable to articulate a coherent reason for their bad behaviour.

By contrast if I do tackle younger people most of them listen and apologise for their actions. They have often genuinely forgotten or not understood the rules and I have great sympathy for them for that. I went to Penny Lane Londis and only when I got to the door realised that my mask was where I had left it by the front door. The regulations are not immediately obvious to people and I can accept genuine confusion from young and old alike.

Over the 9 months of the virus I have seen so many acts of kindness by young people. One lot have been helping look after their neighbour’s gardens. Although their Dad mentioned sadly that they never help with their own! Others go shopping for people who were shielding or self-isolating; others make a point of ringing the grandparents more; others have been involved in looking after younger children whilst parents work from home or go out to work.

The vast of young people in our City are behaving well despite all the pressures on the. Imagine being an 18 or 19-year-old student now. They studied hard for exams that didn’t take place; were offered or not offered places based on assessments which they may or may not have been able to take up. They then have arrived in a City which they partly chose because of its night life and that it’s a great place to live. They are now spending a fortune NOT to have the student experience they worked for.

Our own teenagers face an uncertain future. Their path either to further studies or to employment is far from clear. Youth unemployment is rocketing; vacancies are disappearing and their none exam-based assessment looks difficult.

Yet students and local young people alike have largely behaved well. They have respected the science of the virus aware that they are less likely themselves to suffer badly from the Virus but they may well infect their parents or grandparents who will be affected.

I was called a snowflake yesterday in a long rant I received from someone. Really! I will always criticise anyone of any age who breaks coronavirus laws and regulations which are there for their good and ours. But please let’s not judge a generation of youngsters because of the poor judgement and behaviour of a handful.

About richardkemp

Leader of the Liberal Democrats in Liverpool. Deputy Chair and Lib Dem Spokesperson on the LGA Community Wellbeing Board. Married to the lovely Cllr Erica Kemp CBE with three children and four grandchildren.
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