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Local and international ‘Covid-eos’ helping rural young people connect amid Covid-19

21 April 2020

Local and international ‘Covid-eos’ helping rural young people connect amid Covid-19

Spanning topics from social isolation to the effect on farming enterprises, the Rural Youth Project has launched a new video diary series – “Country Covid-eos” – to connect rural young people during quarantine.

With a new ‘Covid-eo’ launched each Monday, the series will see young people from Scotland, England, and further afield such as Australia, share how corona virus is impacting them and their community. The initiative aims to connect young people in rural areas where feelings of isolation and loneliness may be compounded due to the pandemic.

Zoe Legg (20), a young farmer from Devon, stars in the first ‘Covid-eo’ and explains the changes in her life since social distancing was implemented.

“The rural youth community, like all youth communities, centralises around a lot of socialising and this has probably been the hardest adjustment to make.

“On a more serious note, my mum and I are involved in a contractual agreement to supply crops with an innovative AD digester. With the weather suddenly, for once, being kind to us it’s become a flurry of activity to get crops in the ground, dung spread, and ground maintained after winter. With all this productivity the last thing we need are delivery delays – which is exactly what we’re facing,” said Zoe.

Vlogging from South Lanarkshire in Scotland, Jenny Baillie (27), noted that the pandemic will affect the mental health of the farming and crofting community.

“In terms of Covid-19 impacting the farming community, coming from a personal family point of view, livestock markets are still operating, but sellers taking livestock to market have to basically drop the stock off without any form of communication at all.

“There’s no social element other than handing livestock passports over, and that trip to the market is someone’s weekly interaction with people and there’s absolutely no doubt about it that this will impact the agricultural community’s mental health,” said Jenny.

Vlogging from Wagga Wagga in New South Wales, Australia, Tobie Payne (26) explains the impact Covid-19 has had on communities off the back of devastating wildfires and drought.

“Rural Australia is resilient. We face a lot of challenges and there is always something whether it is drought, floods or bush fires – it’s never easy sailing. But that’s what makes these communities, these rural areas and regional towns, unique.

“Only four months ago we had the worst fire season here in New South Wales that has ever been seen and the country rallied together to support one another. And now we’re in this Covid pandemic in Australia where you see people hoarding groceries, hoarding toilet paper and we had reports of busloads of city people coming out to rural areas to go shopping to have access to some of the essentials,” said Tobie.

Project and Communications Officer for the Rural Youth Project, Alana Black, said the video series is a way to help young people feel connected during quarantine: “We’ve launched the ‘Country Covid-eo’ diary series to communicate what is happening to young people in rural areas and how the issues that they already face – such as loneliness and poor connectivity – are compounded due to Covid-19.

“Hearing from young people like Zoe and Jenny in the UK and Tobie in Australia brings home the feeling that although we are physically isolating, we can still connect through online platforms. I encourage any young person to share their story by filming a video and using the #CountryCovideos,” said Alana.

The “Country Covid-eos” diary series is part of the longer-term programme of the Rural Youth Project to reach out to all areas of Scotland and enable all young people to participate and become the next generation of rural leaders. The Rural Youth Project is funded as a cooperation project by five LEADER Local Action Groups (LAGs); Angus, Lanarkshire, Outer Hebrides, Rural Perth and Kinross and the Scottish Borders, under the LEADER Programme 2014-2020: The European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development: Europe investing in rural areas.

The video series, which can be viewed on Rural Youth Project social media channels, will run the duration of quarantine and young people keen to share what isolation is like for them are encouraged to get involved by filming their story and using the #CountryCovideo hashtag and tagging @ruralyouthproject on Facebook or @RYP2018 on Twitter and Instagram.