THE community launch of Khidmat Centre’s Young in Covid film took place last night at Dixons Trinity Academy.

Raw, brave and authentic are the words that describe the strength of all those involved.

The project was headed by Sofia Buncy DL, Umaimah Siddique and filmed by Pishdaad Modaressi Chaherdehi.

The evening provided a chance for community leaders and members to get together and watch a film highlighting the struggles of young people during the pandemic.

Sofia Buncy, national co-ordinator at the Khidmat Centre, said: “People overestimated the physical and emotional resilience of young people in the pandemic.

“This film is raw and uncensored because that’s what young people are like, they tell it as is.”

When the film was initially launched, the response was phenomenal, tears were shed as those watching resonated with the stories and emotions of the young people involved.

Ms Buncy described the community launch to be as important, if not more important than the launch held earlier this year.

“This is a chance for people in this community to engage and interact with young people and to ask them questions.

“The pandemic hit young people harder, they were in stages of their life that were extremely important and life determining.

“These were critical years for their development, emotional, social and educational.”

“The film resonated with a lot of people”

The film told stories of young people in the pandemic, but the message wasn’t just about these young people, rather the whole population of young people.

Natalina Mudd, one of the young people featured in the film, said: “Our stories are worth telling but we didn’t have a platform.

“In the height of the pandemic nobody wanted to listen to our struggles and what we were going through.

“We kept getting told that we were young and that we could get through it.”

The overwhelming response to the film felt by a significant number of people in the room was that young people had been let down.

Muhammed Ali Islam, Co-founder of Youth Cuts, an organisation where young people can come for a haircut and speak about their feelings and mental health, said: “Young people were neglected and thrown aside.

“All the big organisations that were given money to speak to young people, didn’t do their job well enough, they didn’t reach far enough.

“If they had, we wouldn’t have had to set up our own organisations and spaces.”

Behind the stories, there were very real people who wanted to be heard and to be heard loudly and clearly.

There was a demand for change.

Muhammed Ali Islam described how difficult it was to reach out and ask for help.

“When I was researching, I only found two places that could help me, then it was the panic of should I call, do I pick up the phone.”

Having access to mental health services is one thing but having the courage to use them and to understand that it’s okay to use them is a whole different scenario.

The launch revealed the true state of Bradford’s young people in the height of the pandemic.

PC Huss, the Youth and Engagement officer, said: “We needed a platform to get these young people on, to tell their stories of how Covid impacted them.”

Community and faith leaders were left with the question of how do we help these young people.

Natalina said: “The only way you can help young people at this time is to collaborate with them, to give them a seat at the table and to let them speak, while you listen.

“we’re overlooked and nobody takes their time out to listen to us.

“All we heard about during the pandemic was what grades we needed to get and what homework was expected from us.

“Not once did teachers have a chat with us regarding how we were feeling or going through.”

The film was made on a budget of 1000 pounds and through the goodwill of organisations such as Manningham House and Mary Magdalane CiC.

Ms Buncy said: “This is a legacy project.

“This is grass roots activism, and this film shows the reality of young people in the pandemic.

“We now need to find ways to support them and help get their lives on track.”

Young in Covid will be released later this week for all those who want to watch.