SpunOut.ie partner with Irish Examiner to share young people’s pandemic experiences

The Irish Examiner featured a special report over two days with insight from SpunOut.ie readers and volunteers

Written by Hannah Byrne


Recently, the Irish Examiner ran a two-page special report in the Friday and Saturday papers, sharing the experiences of young people living under lockdown in Ireland. SpunOut.ie partnered with the Examiner to bring stories from our readers during this unusual and extraordinary time, and to shine a light on how young people are managing during a global pandemic.

As part of this project, SpunOut.ie carried out a survey of over 1,000 young people aged 16-25 in Ireland to get an understanding of how they are feeling during the COVID-19 pandemic. We also invited readers to submit short paragraphs on how they have been feeling over the last few months of lockdown.

Survey results: Young people in lockdown

The survey asked young people aged 16-25 about their health and wellbeing, work and income, their thoughts on the Leaving Cert, and their hopes for the future.

Read our analysis on the survey results from Jack Eustace, Governance and Policy Officer at SpunOut.ie

Here are some of the results from that survey:

  • 34% of young people say they will need mental health support after COVID crisis
  • 88% of Leaving Cert students concerned about contracting virus while sitting exams
  • 34% of young people have lost work since the pandemic hit
  • 66% of young people think it will be end of the year or 2021 before return to normal
  • Most common lockdown coping mechanisms are; listening to music, watching TV and going for walks
  • Features of lockdown young people would like to keep after COVID-19 include; an increased appreciation for ‘normal’ life (68.7%), lower carbon emissions (58%), more government support for the vulnerable (53.5%)

Young people’s voices on life in lockdown

As part of this partnership, we asked our readers and volunteers to send in short paragraphs detailing their experiences during the COVID-19 pandemic. In all, we received 90 submissions from young people across Ireland, and many of these were featured in the Examiner.

Read our analysis on young people’s submissions from Hannah Byrne, Senior Online Content Producer at SpunOut.ie.

Here are some highlights from those written and video submissions:

Courtney, 20, living in Carlow

Ellie, 18, living in Dublin

The past few weeks have been a struggle to say the least. I am a Leaving Cert student and trying to motivate myself to study and learn has been near impossible. I live in a very busy household so my house was never a place I would use to study but with everything closed I have no other choice. The uncertainty surrounding us at this time is indescribable, we have no outlets left to relax and unwind, personally I miss nothing more than my friends and my family. FaceTime and Zoom calls have been my best friend during this time but they will never replace the social interaction we’re all missing so much. I feel like I’m wasting so much time with all this going on and when my grandad contracted COVID-19 in March it was a real reality check to just how serious this whole thing is, thankfully he pulled through and is now back home. I have made a real effort to social distance since then and it’s been so hard not seeing my friends but the sooner we all listen to the social distancing rules the government is telling us the sooner we will get back to reality.

Mike, 22, living in Kerry

Róisín, 23, living in Mayo

This whole experience really is like a rollercoaster. One day it can feel fine and I feel content in myself, and the next there is a huge wave of anxiety. I think it comes from all the unknown associated with it. We don’t know when we’ll be able to see our grandparents again, hug a friend again. I think it shows how much we took for granted before, like sitting down to have food in a restaurant or having a chat with the cashier in a supermarket. At the start of these restrictions, I had great intentions of the routine I was going to get myself into with college work and other things to keep myself occupied, yet as it stretches out longer and longer, it is really hard to get motivated to do anything. Living in a rural area has been a challenge and a blessing in these times. A challenge in terms of how the internet connection can be unsteady, and there’s no way for takeaways to be delivered! But a blessing in terms of how I can go for a walk without fear of meeting a single person while I’m out. It’s possible to escape that feeling of claustrophobia that comes with being stuck inside.

Abbie, 17, Leaving Cert student

Katie, 20, living in Monaghan

I’ve been finding lockdown hard. I was in my final year of my social work degree, and now we’ve been fast-tracked to support the health services. I’m working full-time now, about two months earlier than we were expected to start. This job is emotionally difficult at the best of times, but with the current crisis, it’s even more challenging. When I’m not at work, I’m self-isolating alone in my student flat. It was particularly difficult the first few weeks, being separated for the foreseeable future from my family and friends. When the crisis and lockdown began, it felt like my whole life had been torn away from me. I think I’m adjusting better now, and I’ve developed a good routine of keeping in touch with the people who are important to me! I think I’ve learned a lot from this, and I’ve begun to recognise what really matters in life. It’s not the expensive stuff, top grades or lots of money that gets you through lockdown; it’s the happy memories of friends, family and good experiences!

Criodán, NUIG student, living in Westmeath

Emily, 21, living in Dublin

The past few weeks have been an experience I will never forget. Due to the colleges closing, I decided to work full-time at my local Burger King (where I work part-time when in college), we stayed open for a while to feed the front-line staff. I was working 10 hours shifts and still had college work to do on top of going into work. Safe to say, I was exhausted. I got laid off and now I’m focusing on getting on top of my college work. For the past few days, I have been going on runs and have been trying to keep myself busy to keep my mind occupied. Zoom calls are honestly what’s getting me through this pandemic, it’s great being able to speak to those who I can’t meet in person. I have been trying to see the good in everything around me and appreciate the village I live in by going on walks and sitting outside when the sun is setting. It’s the little things in life that keep me going.

Caitlin, living in Dublin

Read all of the submissions we received from young people across Ireland at the links below:

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