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‘Everybody has a view that matters’ – Committee calls for public’s views on the pandemic and the future

The COVID-19 Coronavirus pandemic has impacted everyone in some way and a House of Lords Committee wants to hear the public’s experiences of the pandemic, plus their views on the future.

At many times, the Coronavirus pandemic has forced us to live our lifes in different ways – whether it be distancing ourselves from the ones we love, working from home or using public transport less to keep it more available for key workers. The pandemic has also had huge impacts on the economy, jobs and society more generally - impacts which could continue for some time as part of the ‘new normal’.

Questions such as ‘What are the things you are most worried about?’ and ‘What do you most hope changes for the better?’ are among questions which a House of Lords Committee currently wants the public to answer in a ‘Life beyond COVID-19’ enquiry.

Baroness Morgan of Cotes, former Secretary of State for the Department for Culture, Media & Sport and now a Member of the House of Lords told us that she has been learning that the Lords “has the ability to take a broader view and a longer-term view based on the expertise of [its] members” and believes this has been a key factor in the setup of the House of Lords COVID-19 Committee.

A member of the COVID-19 Committee, Baroness Morgan told us that the Committee is keen to hear people’s experiences from the pandemic, but their work is not so much focused on the issues here and now, but much more so on the long term implications of the virus, in particular over the next 2-5 years.

The Committee wants to hear from individuals, groups and businesses but in particular, people who don’t usually engage with Parliament and its calls for evidence.  

As it looks to the future in its enquiry, the Committee is especially keen to hear from young people, wanting to know if and how they see their futures being impacted by the pandemic. Data has already shown that young people are among those being most affected by job cuts during the pandemic and it is feared that the futures of many young people could be significantly disrupted by the pandemic and its different impacts.

The Committee recently held a session to discuss some key issues directly with young people and Baroness Morgan told us that the session was interesting to hear young people’s views and how many remain optimistic about areas of the future;

“What was really interesting was how optimistic they still remain about their own personal futures, whilst clearly concerned about the broader impact of the slowing down of the economy, the impact on their education from being out of learning environment for six months and those sorts of issues”

Speaking about the importance of gathering evidence, she added;

“We’re looking to the future and it would be completely wrong of us not to be seeking out the voices and people, the personalities of the future. It’s very easy, it’s very customary to hear from experts but the point is in a way, what we’ve seen over the last six months is, yes, of course there is a role for expert evidence but this virus has affected absolutely everybody and so everybody has a view that matters and needs to be taken account of by legislators and people in public life.”

“In my experience, actually some of the most articulate people I met during my time as an MP was my younger constituents who may not be able to vote but they had a very clear view of what was going on in their lives”.

Baroness Morgan

 

The first stage of the Committee’s enquiry is to do a ‘temperature check’ to see what people think about the last six months, what they like and what they don’t like. The Committee is then to use the evidence to focus on particular issues that many people have raised such as people’s mental health and future employment prospects. It is hoped that the collection of further evidence in these areas will be able to inform future debates, but recommendations through reports may also help to guide future policymaking by governments.

The Committee has tried to make submitting views and experiences easy and accessible, with it welcoming written submissions but also evidence through creative forms such as images, poetry and artwork.

The initial deadline for evidence is the end of August and evidence can be submitted on the UK Parliament website.

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