However, as time went on, young people emerged as one of the groups most affected by the social isolation of lockdowns. Many faced the challenges of not being able to see family and friends, disrupted education, and anxiety about their future chances of getting into college, university or the world of work.
The number of young people struggling with their mental health began to grow, with increasing reports of struggles with loneliness, trouble sleeping, and anxiety about leaving the house for fear of catching the virus or spreading it to vulnerable family members.
Supported by staff at St Andrew's Youth Club, Westminster, artist Alix Smith worked with young people to explore their pandemic experiences. The colourful park benches displayed at the Arboretum featured illustrations by the participants themselves, exploring their own stories and their encounters with outdoor heritage throughout lockdown.