Covid pandemic

Scroll down to find out more about this issue - including a summary for children and young people, background information including the relevant Children's Rights, how we are monitoring Government and our work in addressing the issue.

A New and Better Normal: Children and Young People's Experiences of the COVID-19 Pandemic Cover

Summary for children and young people

The Covid-19 pandemic changed things dramatically for children and young people across Northern Ireland as people were forced to change the way they live their lives through lockdowns, social distancing, wearing masks and home schooling. Children and young people have spent much more time at home with their families and have had to learn new ways to have fun, keep in contact with friends and stay healthy.

NICCY has looked at our Government’s response to the pandemic including the introduction and easing of successive lockdowns and the introduction of emergency legislation. We’ve looked at what the NI Executive has done to minimise the impact of the pandemic on the education, health and social and family life of children and young people and to make sure young people and their families do not fall into poverty.

More information for children and young people on Covid

No More School Closures - Cover Sign with School Closed Due to Coronavirus

Information on the Covid Pandemic

The COVID-19 pandemic has been an unprecedented global crisis.

Whilst measures curtailing people’s normal activities, freedoms and access to places and spaces has been taken by Governments across the world, there is strong evidence that these restrictions have had a significant impact on the rights and best interests of children and young people.

Relevant Children's Rights

Views from young people

Two Heads One being fuzzed

“During the pandemic there was a lack of understanding about the effect on young people’s mental health. All the ads targeting us put extra pressure on us – like we were all putting our granny at risk. They were all really emotional and scary.” Young person, NI

NICCY Dudes Guy Sitting Down Distressed

“Access and quality of services was not as good during the first lockdown in 2020. At the beginning of lockdown, I was diagnosed with scoliosis via a letter.  It was a big pill to swallow and I was scared about the possibility of further surgery, bracing … I was stressed and upset. It was a rather clinical way of finding out and I was left in the dark for some months regarding how I should manage this news and the constant pain I was suffering.” Young person, NI

No More School Closures - Cover Sign with School Closed Due to Coronavirus

“It was hard when we were supposed to do an online class as we couldn’t put the camera on so it was a bit awkward because you didn’t want to come in and speak over people so you couldn’t really ask questions or anything.” Young person, NI

Person Holding Covid Tracker App

“I feel like all the information that we got was either too much for little children and didn’t give us enough information or it was too “adult” for middle aged children to young adults. Personally, I was quite scared and I think quite a few others were since we had no idea what would happen.” Young person, NI

Monitoring Government – what is government doing to address Covid?

It is NICCY’s considered view that there is not enough evidence to conclude that the Executive has prioritised the needs of children and young people throughout the course of the pandemic and as we continue to move forward with recovery. Children and young people have not been clearly visible in the recovery planning process- whilst it is not always necessary to have child specific plans, they do help to maintain visibility on actions being taken which benefit them.

Our work on Covid

In August 2021, NICCY published ‘A New and Better Normal’, this report examined the Northern Ireland Executive’s response to the pandemic between July 2020 – May 2021, which included the period covering the introduction and easing of successive lockdowns and the introduction of Emergency Legislation. In September 2022, NICCY published a monitoring report which set out its assessment of the progress made by Government to implement the recommendations made.

More information on our work on the impact of the Covid Pandemic is available from the following link:

‘A New and Better Normal: Children and Young People’s Experiences of the COVID-19 Pandemic’

Related blogs

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Commissioner's Covid Blog

read the Commissioner's blog on Covid 19.

Commissioner's Blog
Commissioner's Covid Blog

Publications and resources

UK Covid-19 Inquiry Terms of Reference

The Commissioner for Children and Young People (NICCY) was created in accordance with ‘The Commissioner…

UK Covid-19 Inquiry Terms of Reference