The Big Conversation overview & reports. 

The Big Conversation is an unprecedented attempt to get inside the heads and into the hearts of those people whose lives and education were so rudely disrupted by Covid19, and who are notoriously hard to reach: our 18 to 21 year olds.  The Big Conversation aims first to find and then to talk to young people in an individual town – Wrexham – who were aged 16 to 18 years when the pandemic hit.

The objectives? To understand what makes them truly ‘tick’ in an era of once-in-a-generation confusion, chaos and noise. Then, with that understanding, to create the right opportunities for them.

Please download our WeMindTheGap – findings and response and Employers’ research report here.

Please download the full Big Conversation – young persons full research report and supporting Research findings presentation here.

The Big Conversation full press release – highlighting the impact of the pandemic on young people in Wrexham

The charity behind a ground-breaking project in Wrexham to engage with young people aged 18-21 to understand the impact of the Covid pandemic has had on their lives and education has shared its findings with local organisations.

Called ‘The Big Conversation’ the project is being led by WeMindTheGap and part-funded by the UK Government through the UK Shared Prosperity Fund in partnership with Wrexham County Borough Council, Coleg Cambria and employers including Net World Sport. Other key partners in The Big Conversation included Wrexham University and behaviour change experts Hitch Marketing which conducted the research.

The Big Conversation engaged over 400 18–21-year-olds through digital survey channels, on site engagement, focus groups and interviews.

Amongst its key findings, the research highlighted that 46 per cent of young people said they are experiencing loneliness despite reengaging in education since the pandemic, 37% said they’d lost interest in education and one in three said they have given up on the things that they enjoyed before Covid.

Almost half said that even when they’re with people they know they don’t feel they belong, and that since the Covid pandemic they feel more alone.

Many young people also shared that they feel they lack the social skills such as resilience, motivation and initiative to be part of the workplace, and so are finding it difficult to find, secure and stay in work.

This supported findings from over 100 local employers who were also engaged as part of the research, who said that many young people are attending interviews or work without the knowledge and experience of the ‘unwritten rules of employment’ such as getting to work on time, being ready physically and mentally, good sleep and diet.

The project also highlighted that some young people in Wrexham are thriving and developing real entrepreneurial skills, having turned their hobbies into money making schemes during the pandemic and want to be able to access information and professional support to help them develop these skills.

Ali Wheeler, CEO of WeMindTheGap, said: “WeMindTheGap’s work is all about transforming young people’s lives. The world has changed dramatically over the last four years and that many young people have been impacted by this. The Big Conversation has been a really valuable opportunity to speak to young people in

Wrexham to learn and understand the challenges they are facing so that we can work with other partners across the area to look at how we can change the way we work to create the support and opportunities that our young people deserve for a brighter future. We’re very grateful to Wrexham County Borough Council their support in helping us to conduct The Big Conversation.”

Councillor Phil Wynn, Wrexham Council’s Lead Member for Education, said: “The Big Conversation is a really important project that will help us gain a better understanding of the challenges facing local young people and explore ways that we can develop support to enable them to achieve their aspirations.”

Ian Bancroft, Chief Executive of Wrexham Council, added: “WeMindTheGap’s expertise in engaging young people has been invaluable in taking this work forward and I’m looking forward to continuing to work together to use the data and insight gathered to ensure that we create the right opportunities in Wrexham for all our young people to thrive.”

The findings from The Big Conversation make a number of recommendations including co-designing a number of local hubs for young people where they can go to air their views and engage with and be signposted to support. WeMindTheGap has already launched a hub for young people at Ty Avow in Wrexham which has proved popular with local young people who are regularly accessing it and have highlighted the value they believe it brings.

Other recommendations include developing an Alternative Employability Hub where young people can learn and develop their employability skills, whilst employers can gain support to help them recruit and retain young people in employment, as well as a reset intervention where young alumni or advocates of WeMindTheGap helped to develop an Explorer model which encourages young people to be co-designers and investigators to help further the conversations started through The Big Conversation.

Ed Hughes, Executive Director of housing association ClwydAlyn and one of WeMindTheGap’s employer partners, commenting on the research, said: “The Big Conversation is a real call to action to employers to do more to support young people to support them into the world of work and enable them to thrive in their roles. At ClwydAlyn we recognise the need and the value of encouraging more young people into our organisation, this research is valuable in helping us to understand how we can do this more effectively, and working with partners like WeMindTheGap is really important in helping us to research those that are further removed from the job market.”

Sir John Timpson, Chair of Timpson Group and Patron of WeMindTheGap, added: “The findings of The Big Conversation really highlights the need to have these conversations with young people, helping us to understand why they behave the way they do, in particularly those that were forced to stay at home during the pandemic. We know that more young people than ever are finding it challenging to engage in life beyond their screen, and this raises the vital question of what can we do as employers to support young people as they embark upon working life. Now that we have the evidence, it’s important that we use this to explore how we can do things differently to create the right opportunities for young people to fulfil their potential in the world of work.”

So what next? 

Please register your interest in finding out more on behaviour change training in your community by emailing

Please register your interest in finding out more on how we can help you, your organisation or place of work understand the impact of Adverse Childhood experiences by emailing

Share this story

Sign up to our newsletter

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

Follow us