10 March 2022
Throughout this week we’ve been celebrating women and girls in our community to mark International Women’s Day, focusing on the concept of ‘breaking the bias’ both as a vision for the future and as a fight women have been shouldering on their own for far too long. Two weeks on since the escalation of the situation in Ukraine, with perhaps unprecedented photo, video and news content covering this unimaginable humanitarian crisis, as a woman I can’t help but think of women living through it. As someone committed to youth work, I think about young people. As a parent I think about children. As a gay woman I think about the LGBTQ+ community and their fears of how they will be treated. We’ve already seen people of colour suffering discrimination which has sharpened their situation further.
The situation feels unimaginable to me. Unimaginably frightening for those living through it and unimaginable for wider families and friends scared for people they love.
The effects of conflict
At the same time the crisis has made me think about those young people in our network for whom this isn’t unimaginable – the young people who have lived through and been marked by other wars and conflicts. I feel more than ever grateful to the youth workers who have supported refugee and asylum seeking young people. And who continue to support them – the effects of conflict persist over lifetimes and generations.
A poet wrote ‘no man is an island, entire of himself, every man is a part of the whole’. And one of the strongest lessons of the last two years for me, personally, has been how true this has proved. Not just poetically but literally, and whether we acknowledge it or not. We are connected.
I wanted to take this opportunity to remind our network of members, youth workers and young people that we’re here. I know that all of you are seeing what I am seeing and feeling deep heartbreak for the suffering of others, and I hope you can find some strength in the warmth of this community, joined together by an inherent belief that young people deserve safe spaces to grow up healthy and as agents of their own futures.
Looking outwards and taking action
There is also, I feel, a truth in the idea that, in our own feelings of powerlessness, we can remind ourselves to look outwards and look to take action, however small. I will be trying to remind myself to do this and thinking of those affected by this and other conflicts. In doing something for others, we help ourselves. This is something that so many of you know.
Giving is one way of doing that. So too are dedicated work, community action, and volunteering – the things we cherish and champion. And some people will turn to thoughtfulness and prayer.
If you can give, and do want to give, you can do so via the DEC Appeal here >
At London Youth we will be talking to our members to see where we can help and how we can work alongside those groups who will be supporting affected young people.
The scale of conflict feels immense. I hope we can take heart from every humanitarian action, however small.