During summer 2021, we conducted our biggest ever young residents’ survey. Working with Partnership for Young London and our local schools, we asked children and young people about the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent lockdowns on their lives. We wanted to hear from as many children and young people as possible and worked hard to ensure that young residents from across Merton could take part and have their voices heard and their opinions included. We received over 2,000 survey responses to our survey and met over 150 young people in focus groups sessions across the borough.

The project has provided the council with wealth of feedback from Merton’s young people on the impact of COVID-19 on their mental and physical health; on their personal relationships, on the impacts to their education over the past two years; on their views on safety and the Police in Merton and on how young people felt about their local environment. These valuable insights helped inform ‘Merton 2030: our ambition for the borough’ and Merton’s Children’s Trust are working to drive the impact of the report and ensure that the key points and recommendations from the Merton Youth Parliament and Young Inspectors are addressed.

Read the full report on the project. In addition, please watch Merton’s Young Inspectors present the key findings of the project in this report summary video.

Merton's Youth Residents Survey

Hello! We are Young Inspectors.


A group of young people who live, learn and socialise in Merton.


The council wants to know how COVID has affected people like us and what we want for the future.


So they handed the power to us to investigate.


To do this, we created surveys and hosted focus groups.




Around 35 thousand minutes from over 2 thousand young people!


You’ve probably contributed through your school or youth group.


Maybe you even recognise us?


These are our findings.


This is our voice.

( TEXT ON SCREEN: This Is Our Voice )


(TEXT ON SCREEN: We spoke to over 200 young people in-person through their schools, youth or sports clubs.


This film features some of our interviews with members of Uptown Youth Club. )



We found that over a third of young people in Merton were worried about their mental health during lockdown.


Many of us felt bored and more anxious, either about our loved ones getting COVID-19 or falling behind at school and sports.


Many young people still rely on their friends and family for support for their mental health rather than going to GPs or Mental Health Professionals.


Young people also told us that they spent way more time looking at screens during lockdown but this was largely to keep in contact with their friends on social media apps.


Our screen time was like much longer.


I’m talking like hours!


 TEXT ON SCREEN: Amarylis; Thearsa


Like, hours a day…


Probably more than half the day on our screens, for me personally.


(Interviewer) Did that affect your sleep?


Yeah, a hundred percent.


We’d be up until like 3 o’clock in the morning




Or like 4 o’clock in the morning just sitting there on our phones or laptops or iPads or whatever.


TikTok, YouTube


Just doing so much-




(TEXT ON SCREEN: Annemarie)


I was on my phone everyday.


It helped me to build a lot more connections with my friends.


Normally, I’d see them at school and then I wouldn’t speak to them until the next day of school but now that I’ve got them over the phone, I’m on the phone to them for about 12 hours.


I went on my phone one time and it said I was on screen time for 14 hours!


I was shocked but I think that’s just because we didn’t have nothing else to do.


It was quite boring during lockdown.




One out of 10 young people said that they had to skip meals because there wasn’t enough food.




Whilst 1 in 20 had to not eat for a whole day because there wasn’t enough food.


I was actually helping people get food as well.


In my household we were giving out boxes of cans and stuff to my neighbours and stuff.


So we was helping our community.


But then, I was (also) making a lot of new foods and stuff with siblings and doing a lot of cooking with them.


Yeah, I found myself… making concoctions, I guess you could call it, with food and not just food but different things, like stuff for my hair for example and baking and just found myself in the kitchen more often than usual.


Over a third of young people said that COVID-19 and lockdown had a positive impact on their relationship with family.




We found that many young people had used this time to bond with their parents or siblings.


Many of us also relied far more on our friends for support during COVID-19.


Being around each other was a bit hectic at first.


 (TEXT ON SCREEN: Raqayah ; Tasharra)


Well, not at first, it was always like that.


Yeah, it did because it drew us closer even though we were constantly getting annoyed with each other.


We got closer and spent more time with each other.


Well, my mother was ill and she passed away in lockdown.


I really did care about her a lot so.. .


It was a bit hard for all my siblings and me in lockdown as we had an ill mum so yeah...


Her family was on my mind all the time.


Like literally.


She’d come over sometimes and she’d just say “hi” to my mum and it’s have to be either outside the door to something, it was just so long but its so lovely to see that people…


Throughout this whole journey I’ve been on there’s people still here for me.


COVID-19 really affected our education and many of us found it harder to learn online.


Especially if we were in important stages of our education such as doing exams or moving school.


Learning at home can be filled with distractions with failing WI-FI or no space to work away from family.


(TEXT ON SCREEN: 73% worried about our progress)


As a result, we found that 3 out of 4 young people were worried about falling behind or felt less confident about their learning because of COVID-19 and lockdown.




I feel like before lockdown was a structure obviously we had a year 7 to year 8 to year 9 and everyone was learning.


Lockdown kind of interrupted everything.


It stopped a lot of people from learning.


A lot of my friends, personally, that I know they would stop going onto online lessons and they were left far behind.


Me, myself, I was left far behind after a long 7-month period of no learning.


A first we didn’t have a laptop and the school contacted our mum asking why we was not attending our online sessions.


So they provided us with a laptop to share until we were back at school.


It was really stressful.. it was really stressful.


The subjects I found easy, I was alright with those but other subjects such as English and History I struggled with the most.


So, not being able to get the information I needed and the support I needed, it affected my grade.


Whereas,  if we wasn’t in lockdown, I could have got a better grade.


I was in Year 11 when COVID-19 happened so we didn’t really have a proper leaver’s party.


School didn’t really help with transitioning.


I don’t know if that was because of COVID-19 or they just wanted us to go but, me personally, I think they could have done better.


Like, going to a different environment, some people’s mental health and I know now, some people’s mental health is not that good.


Like they are overthinking stuff, anxiety, depression…


Young people feel safe across the borough.



However, certain areas in the borough were seen as more unsafe and certain groups in the borough feel more unsafe.



However, certain areas in the borough were seen as more unsafe and certain groups in the borough feel more unsafe.


This was similar to our findings on the police.


Where generally young people had a positive option of the police but certain groups were more likely to have a negative opinion.


We also found that over a third of young people in Merton said that they knew someone who’s been stopped and searched.



While 1 in 10 had been stopped and searched themselves.



I see a lot of people being stopped and searched in my community.


I don’t really like how that happens a lot because normally it’s not for a good reason.


So, it’s not even to ask their awareness, if they’ve seen someone or anything and it’s just scary in general.

(TEXT ON SCREEN: We found that Black young people are 3x more likely to be stopped and searched than White young people)

It’s like they have an image of who they want to stop and you’ll see a normal pedestrian walking on the road but to the police they might seem as if they’re in a gang.


Getting stopped at 14 or 15 (years old), that’s wrong.


I personally think it’s really wrong.


I think they should live a childhood without all of that.


I feel like school kind of acted like a distraction to most people


people and once we were out of school and people had nothing to do


if they weren’t online playing games or on their phone on social media


they wanted to go outside and more people were groomed into


poorly behaved groups and it led to more delinquents in more areas.


I attend my youth club because I feel like it’s a safe area for everyone to be in.


It’s a safe environment, not really much trouble goes on and


when people are feeling down or if they’re bored


rather than going out and doing something that could get them into trouble


going there is like a get away for most people.


On the whole, we found that Merton is a great place to live.


We love our local area and we want to take more care of it.


We have vibrant local communities and we want to see young people represented, both within these communities but also in decision making about spaces for young people.


When it comes to having a voice, we found that young residents feel excluded and not listened to when it comes to decisions that impact them locally.


Almost half of young people in Merton said that they have felt that they have no say at all in how projects and activities are designed for young people.

( TEXT ON SCREEN: Councillor Eleanor Stringer; Joint Deputy Leader, Merton Council Cabinet Member for Children and Education)

I’m so happy that we at Merton have decided to do this survey and to listen to young people.


We’ve been doing a larger Residents’ Survey and I think that’s really really important too


too but often when you do that you miss out the voices of the children and young people whose experiences might be very different.


And it’s those young people, growing up here, whose future we really care about.


So we really want their views on how we invest going forward over the next 10, 20 years in what we’re doing in Merton.


( TEXT ON SCREEN: Merton Young Inspectors & Youth Parliament came together to discuss the findings of the Youth Residents Survey and form some recommendations )


So what we really want to do is get some clear recommendations


( TEXT ON SCREEN: Young people should have regular opportunities to speak to other young people about what matters to us )


coming out of this about what Merton should be doing


to address the concerns that have come up, but also


address the positive things that people like about the borough.


Make sure we are supporting those as well.


( TEXT ON SCREEN: Young people should play a part in deciding how money is spent on youth services and activities locally )


So I’ve really enjoyed looking at the results coming through the survey


but I’m really keen and really happy to meet


the Youth Parliament, the Young Inspectors


and all those young people directly involved in this, to hear their thoughts


( TEXT ON SCREEN: Young people should be regularly updated about the work that the Council does in a format and language that is relevant to us )


and make sure that they’re telling us directly as decision makers


what they want to happen as a result of this.


( TEXT ON SCREEN: To learn more about the changes that we’re recommending or to get involved in our work *QR CODE*)


Young people have so many great ideas


of things that could really be rolled out in society and in communities.

( TEXT ON SCREEN: Samantha Hadley ; Coach, Fulham FC )


I think young people’s voices are heard to a certain degree, but at the same point, nothings followed up with that.


So they almost feel a sense of: “why should I share to start with”


when I know that no action is going to be taken as a result of that?”


and I think, when we have these conversations


when we hold youth forums


when we talk to the young people about what they want


for me, if we’re going to take the effort to listen to them,


if they do come up with a good idea, it’s for us to act upon that.


Thank you to all the 9-25 year old Merton residents who helped us to share our voices with decision makers by completing the survey or taking part in a focus group.



 Film Presenters – Halima Mehmood ; Denise Vidal-Candengue

Filming Location – Rutlish School

Survey Design – Anna Huk ; Toby Podger-Taylor; Lurdes De Jesus Moreno;

Focus Group Team – Lola Kareem; Halima Mehmood; Denise Vidal-Candengue

Partnership For Young London Team – Iris Bos ; Lisa Jones ; Sharon Long; Matthew Walsham

Focus Group & Interview Participants – M.A.G.I.C ; My Futures ; SHINE Project ; Rutlish School ; Merton College ; Children in Care ; Merton Connected; Carshalton College ; Bond Primary School; Youth Offending Team; Merton Young Carers; Perseid Upper School; Liberty Primary School, Uptown Youth Services; Merton Youth Parliament; Phipps Bridge Youth Club; Ricards Lodge High School; Fulham FC Lavender Park; Fulham FC Harris Academy; Fulham FC Goals Wimbledon; AFC Wimbledon Foundation; Merton Abbey Primary School; Acacia Adventure Playground; Holiday Activities and Food Programme

Film Produced By – Filmanthropy CIC )