Report (published July 2023) highlights work ongoing in Leeds to address the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on young people’s health and wellbeing.

The ‘In Our Shoes’ film and annual report by Leeds City Council’s director of public health Victoria Eaton looks in detail at the impact of the pandemic and its restrictions including the national lockdowns on the physical and mental health and wellbeing on children, young people and their families in the city. It weaves together a powerful story through speaking directly to children and families in Leeds, with an extensive literature review and analysis of local data and building a rich picture of ongoing health impacts.

Children were less likely to become ill with Covid-19 than adults and were not the focus of protective measures, however, the pandemic affected them profoundly and unequally. The impact of this across all our work within the Third Sector will be felt in the years to come.

Film and Report

Watch the In our Shoes film on YouTube (below) and The Leeds City Council website has the Director of Public Health Annual Report 2022 report available to read.


The headline findings of the report include:

  • Children’s mental health worsened between 2020 and 2022
  • Parental mental health was also affected
  • Disrupted routines because of the pandemic affected children’s health
  • The impact was unequal and unfair, especially on less affluent families
  • Lockdown life behind closed doors made some children less safe
  • Young children’s development was affected due to a lack of social mixing
  • Lost learning was experienced by many but levels of impact were unequal due to different home conditions
  • Families found it hard to access some services, with knock-on effects still being felt
  • Action is needed to tackle some childhood infections, with immunisation rates for some serious illnesses such as measles falling since the pandemic
  • Some things did change for the better, with families spending more time together and more flexible working and support arrangements introduced

The recommendations in the report provide a guide to what further action is needed to maximise the chances for all children in Leeds to have a fair start in life.

Director of public health at Leeds City Council Victoria Eaton, said:

“The Covid-19 pandemic was a deeply unsettling time for everyone in Leeds and the wider world, and its true impact is not likely to be fully known for many years. This report shows the immediate impact it had and continues to have on the health of our children and young people.

“I am grateful to everyone who has worked to produce this report, and especially the children and their families who gave up their time to tell us their stories. Their insights are invaluable as we look to learn the lessons and work together across all agencies in Leeds in the coming years to ensure all children in our city have the best possible start in life.”

The report has been commended nationally by Association of Directors of Public Health (ADPH) receiving particular praise for its supporting film ‘In Our Shoes’.

Next Steps

We will discuss the implications of the report at the Health and Care Leaders meeting in October 2023, and will be seeking assurance that clear steps are taken to address the challenges.

If in the meantime you have any thoughts, feedback or questions to raise please let us know by emailing [email protected]