A NEW film will give a raw and emotional insight into the experiences of Bradford’s young people as they faced the turmoil wrought by Covid-19. 

As the pandemic took hold in March last year, with the world plunged into the unknown in a war against an invisible enemy, youngsters faced major upheaval in some of their most crucial years. 


Sofia Buncy DL, national co-ordinator at Bradford’s Khidmat Centres, says young people were left feeling “very confused, very ignored and overlooked” and was driven to record their stories to give them a platform, but to also influence change and leave a legacy for future generations. 

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: Sofia Buncy DLSofia Buncy DL

The film, called Young in Covid - The Silent Pandemic, was nine months in the making and puts the spotlight on a group of Bradford’s young people from different backgrounds, as they bravely share their experience of the pandemic.

Sofia described the film as “bare all” and said: “People talking about losing friends and losing family members. In the real thick of things, it’s a very honest account on their part and for that, I just completely have to applaud their bravery.

“There were some real stories of loss in there, there was some really critical moments. Young people have been very honest and forthright and all the anxieties and fears that we all felt, they’ve actually just laid them bare, and I think that is what will make people emotional.

“I think that is what is so raw about this piece, the intimacy of it, and young people have a really wonderful way of just saying things without censoring things out.”

Sofia said while the general message was that young people were mentally, emotionally and physically resilient, they were actually feeling detached, isolated and despondent with a lack of direction - and didn’t know who to talk to. 

The Telegraph & Argus spoke with some of the young people involved.

Umaimah Siddique, a lead youth ambassador at Khidmat Centres, said it quickly became clear during the pandemic that young people were struggling and their stories needed to be told.

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: Umaimah SiddiqueUmaimah Siddique

“All we could see was numbers going around. Looking at a screen and seeing the deaths increase, that’s scary, especially sitting within four walls and seeing that number go up and up and up, you’re just like ‘what is going on, what is this invisible enemy we’re facing’ - that’s what we thought.”

The 16-year-old said she felt young people had been forgotten, which hit their self-esteem and mental health. 

Umaimah also touched on how she had experienced racism and in one incident in a supermarket was told she was “the problem”.

Reflecting on that moment, she said: “I just looked at her and I go ‘how can you say that without knowing what’s going through that person’s head, how can you say that without knowing what that person’s going through - just because I’m a different colour to you, doesn’t mean that I’m not going through the same thing as you are, I’ve lost family members close to me, I know what’s going on in the world’.”

Eighteen-year-old Natalina Mudd, from Queensbury, wanted to get involved in the film after feeling like young people were dismissed as they were not ‘high-risk’ in terms of Covid, but still faced mental health struggles, along with a feeling that they were being blamed for what was happening.

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: Natalina MuddNatalina Mudd

“I think getting our video out there will help young people be like ‘it wasn’t just me struggling, it wasn’t just me not getting help’,” she said.

“We want to get to a point which stops people getting to that point where they feel like they can’t be here anymore and I think that’s what really empowered us to put this video together.”

Harry Clayton, 18, who is from Bingley added: “As a young person you don’t want to be seen as as an option, you want to be seen as a priority. People don’t want to be just pushed to the side.

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: Harry ClaytonHarry Clayton

“People think because we’re younger we can deal with these kind of things better, it doesn’t mean it doesn’t take a toll on us.”

Muhammed Ali Islam, 18, from Manningham questioned the narrative of ‘being in it together’.

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: Muhammed Ali IslamMuhammed Ali Islam

“I don’t believe that; we were not in this together,” he said.

“We felt isolated, they put the young people to the side, our voices were not heard, our stories were not told.” 

He said young people’s mental health was not taken seriously and added: “It was a clear issue, as a young person I can speak on behalf of other young people, we felt neglected.”

Sofia said it was critical that the moment in time was captured, but hopes it will bring about real change in the future. 

“We want to encourage other people to talk about their experiences, whether that was experiences of loss, and I don’t just mean loss in terms of bereavement, but loss in terms of losing educational opportunities, losing friendships, losing critical moments in your life,” she said.

She added: “One of the reasons we caught it on film was to capture that legacy and try our utmost to be able to influence, not just influence now, but in future generations. 

“I would love for this to be something showcased in schools and colleges post-pandemic. For young people to put their experiences across and for that to resonate with future generations where they say, ‘so that’s what was happening with young people, that’s how they felt’. 

“I wouldn’t want this to just be a film showcase. We’ve been speaking about how we do follow-up pieces. How do we use this to influence policy, strategy, inclusion of young people in services.

“It’s encouraging that people are saying actually, this voice of young people could be representative of the voices of young people anywhere in the UK and perhaps we need to look a little bit closer at what was happening with our young people and perhaps people have got the equation wrong when they said ‘this group of people are resilient’.

“I definitely know it’s a piece of work that will stay in the memory of Bradford for this really critical period that we’ve all gone through together.”

Sofia believes the film will resonate with many people, not just around loss and hardship, but also hope.  

She said: “There’s stories of hope in there, stories of resilience, stories of people getting to know their families better and people learning so much more about themselves and discovering new things that they never knew about themselves.

“A lot of the young people we worked with don’t realise the potential that their voice – and especially their collective voice – has and how strong that is.

“I hope this piece gives insight, at a local, national and even governmental level, as to what’s possible, the possibilities of grassroots working and what is achievable when you empower communities to do and tell their own stories.”

  • The film was shot by Bradford filmmaker Pishdaad Modaressi Chahardehi. Partners include: Manningham Housing, the University of Bradford, West Yorkshire Police, Dixons Trinity Academy, Valicity Care Services and Mary Magdalene CIC.