Over the coming days and weeks, Young Labour will be encouraging the mobilisation of our thousands of members to support people in need during this pandemic, and encouraging the growth of local responses, where young people are often best-placed to help.
It is important that our movement both fights for working-class young people and is rooted in the organisation of working-class young people. For this reason, our work will take two main approaches: building the political pressure on the government to implement policies to support those most affected; and equipping our members to aid their local communities.
We can’t meet in person, but we can’t afford for solidarity to stop. We have published a statement calling on the government to implement a Covid-19 Pandemic Unemployment Payment, to protect the hundreds of thousands of young people in insecure work and zero-hours contracts who will lose jobs and much-needed hours as a result of necessary self-isolation. We followed this with a petition to suspend rent payments, which is a political issue lots of our members are acutely concerned about.
Working with the Membership Mobilisation Team, Young Labour held our first advice Zoom call with hundreds of young members discussing housing with John McDonnell and several housing experts. We talked about Labour’s response in parliament to the government’s plans and answered members’ concerns around evictions, homelessness and the uncertain situations many young people are facing. We want these calls to be a resource for members crying out for ways to help in their free time, and for those who are worried about their own situation and those of loved ones.
Our North West representative Sarah Doyle, a local councillor, and vice-chair Jessica Barnard, who is a youth worker, will be leading on producing a accessible guide on how to get involved with supporting local initiatives to reach out to those in need of support during this pandemic, including assisting food banks with food parcel delivery and being a street contact for people isolated.
At this time, we are re-emphasising join a trade union and encourage their friends and colleagues to do so as well. Our next virtual advice session is tonight at 7pm, which will be covering the world of work with trade union representatives, a Universal Credit expert, Navendu Mishra MP and former Labour MP Laura Smith. If you or a friend are worried about stopping work, having your hours cut, what income support you are entitled to, or want to be equipped to advise others, join us tonight on the call.
Insecure employment and the gig economy workforce means young people are in the lowest unionised group and the most at risk from this pandemic and the subsequent economic fallout. We must fight back.
We also understand that the coming weeks may cause many people to feel significant distress. MIND has some advice and resources on how to seek support and safeguard your mental health during Covid-19.
A big part of Young Labour is making political activism enjoyable, and embedding a socialist understanding into the everyday of our lives. We want to encourage people to take some time out in this stressful period and we will be hosting a virtual pub quiz on Friday with some all-star quiz masters to take our mind off the issues at hand.
We have been focussing on regionalising Young Labour over the last two years and setting up local groups to make our activism relevant and rooted in communities. Local groups such as Lewisham Deptford Young Labour have compiled a reading and film list, and they are making regular contact with members during this time.
Please contact your Young Labour representatives if you want to organise events on a local level for young members or have any questions. We will as always continue to push for more staff and resources to expand our mobilisation and community organising at this crucial time.
Above all, socialists of any age must above all use this time to organise work colleagues, renters, the self-employed and the unemployed to demand the urgent and necessary measures to save lives now and to prepare to build a more equal society in the aftermath.