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‘People tell me they’re not ready to work’: how long-term sickness blighted a town

Hastings has the highest number of young people in England in bad health. But, amid a national epidemic of forced economic inactivity, there is hope

On a Wednesday night in Hastings, a handful of under-18s gather in the back of a former newspaper building for a weekly Dungeons and Dragons night. Around the table, a teenager peers from behind a floppy fringe, telling the other players of a monster with jaws wide enough to swallow a man whole. Behind him, two boys are playing pool. For the moment, there’s not an iPhone in sight.

Sidney Ewing, the youth worker overseeing the programme, says the majority of young people who come to the centre feel uncertain about their future. Their most popular night is for 16-to-18s, she says, a generation who lost two critical years of their education to Covid, with only screens for school and socialising. “A lot of them say they aren’t ready to go to university or start work because of their mental health,” she says. “You hear that a lot: ‘I need to sort myself out first.’”

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Read the original article at The Guardian

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