Mobile navigation


National World launches Project Peter Pan

National World's 17 city world division news titles are collaborating to launch Project Peter Pan: championing the lost generation.

National World launches Project Peter Pan
Nicola Adam: "Project Peter Pan is putting aside any assumptions, generalisations, and unhelpful narratives about the generations of young adults who have had, and are having, a really hard time.”

National World says Project Peter Pan - launched as the UK heads toward a general election in 2024 - aims to use its collective local media power online to give a voice to those in their 20s and 30s who have negotiated a pandemic, work hard and are ambitious, yet are lost.

They told National World reporters they are frozen out of the housing ladder and stuck in a rental cycle often in substandard accommodation or they are in debt and facing impossible decisions. Meanwhile, they face accusations of 'laziness' as costs of living spiral, sparking a mental health epidemic. Politicians should take heed - they have a lot to say, added the publisher.

According to National World, with house prices across the UK averaging at £284,691 (Land Registry) and salaries at £34,963, it now costs 8.14 times the annual salary to buy a house, compared to 2.8 times in 1971. Those starting out and on lower salaries face an impossible task to get on the housing ladder under the wider cost of living crisis as everyday items become unaffordable, added the publisher. According to a report from the HomeOwners Alliance, less than half of aspiring first-time buyers expect their homeownership dream to become a reality.

This formula has sparked a mental health epidemic amongst our generations of often talented and inspiring young adults - straddling Millennials and Generation Z - who told National World journalists unless they have inherited or generational wealth, they are feeling hopeless and under fire from those who came before.

The mental health crisis is not a TikTok craze and young people are not 'snowflakes', writes Joyce Yang via London World. With the cost of living at a record high, rents extortionate and property simply unaffordable in the capital, even young couples who have each other's support are reliant on the bank of mum and dad despite craving independence.

Glasgow World reporter Kaitlin Wraight spoke to George McFadyen, a 25 year old photographer and promoter who lives in the city, which used to be cheaper to live in. He said most people he knew had a second job and felt taken advantage of as costs rise, particularly those in the creative industries.

At Nottingham World, reporter Daniel DeFalco spoke to 23-year-old Sam Carrol who works two jobs but still lives with his parents and says even the car he needs for work is a stretch for his finances with insurance premiums up 21% since June 2022.

In the North East, house prices may be lower but so are wages and one graduate described the situation as 'soul destroying' as they are trapped into a Hobsons Choice of living at at home or paying someone else's mortgage through inflated rental costs. Speaking to the Sunderland Echo, graduate Lee Christian told reporter Neil Fatkin he and his partner were renting, but they have now been forced to move in with parents to attempt to save a deposit - in their 30s.

A dad who has spent years renting in the Scottish capital fears his young family will never have a place to call their own, he told Edinburgh Evening News reporter Jamie Saunderson. Martin Dick, 34, rents with partner Kez, 36, and three-year-old daughter Jade. He works full time and is re-training as an accountant. Although the couple have been together for 11 years, getting on the property ladder has always eluded them saying 'moving goalposts' had made it nigh-on impossible for them to save for a deposit.

One 25-year-old told Catherine Musgrove at Lancashire Post he is a reality TV star and works 50 hours a week as a party planner - but thinks he'll have to crack Hollywood to buy a house. Gideon Allen doesn't see the traditional goals of owning a house on the agenda. He told Catherine: "We're always working and it's for the basic things, I don't think the older generation get it."

A Leeds woman who felt trapped in the cycle of renting for years has told of the sky-high fees she was paying out that made it "impossible" for her to save for a house deposit. Talking to the Yorkshire Evening Post, Sophia Harris, 35, has now finally secured a house in the city – but said it never would have happened if it wasn’t for a lucky pay out. She described the challenging obstacles faced by renters, including trying to scrape together savings with exorbitant rental costs, huge deposits for homes and hidden costs like lawyer’s fees.

21-year-old Levi, a dad of two, told Liverpool World's Emma Dukes and Emily Bonner he works as a chef but is forced to sofa surf after a relationship breakdown made him effectively homeless. Though debt-free, he cannot afford to rent his own property and after bills, he has just £20 a week to live on. He said he's 'embarrassed' by his own situation and desperately wants to be able to have his children with him. Meanwhile, 28-year-old Sam said despite earning £30,000 as an architect and saving £20,000 through extreme self-discipline, it's impossible to find a two-bed city centre property anywhere near his price range. If they are he says they are labelled investment only and it's a 'kick in the teeth'.

Reporter Ria Ghei at Derby World reports many in their early 30s feel like the choice is a car or a house. Meanwhile its editor Abigail Rabbett, herself 26, says she and her friends also feel the stress - despite having good jobs, They see home ownership a far off dream only achievable with extreme compromise and at the cost of living a life.

At Bristol World, editor Mark Taylor spoke to 27-year-old Isaac whose life has turned upside down in less than a year. Isaac lost his job and his flat, which resulted in a mental health crisis. Isaac says he doesn't know a single person his age who can afford a mortgage and some are looking at alternatives such as living in caravans and vans.

Claire Lewis, editor of The Star in Sheffield, said: "For Sheffield to face losing this generation because they can no longer afford to live here is something that cannot be allowed to happen," she said. "They are the future of our city, so for them to be priced out of the market is wrong. Sheffielders deserve to be able to live in their home city where they have grown up. And those who have moved here as students or for work and want to put down roots here should have that option too. We need to fight for this trapped generation and make housing more accessible because if we don't do something now, it is only going to get worse."

Paul Trainer, editor of Glasgow World, said: "Traditionally young people priced out of other cities have found a place in Glasgow but even here there are extraordinary pressures on the next generation of workers, particularly young creatives. The stifling of potential and lack of opportunities for young people to establish their career and enter the property market has reached a historic crisis point. Their concerns will shape the landscape of the next general election across cities in the UK."

Nicola Adam, editor in chief (north), said: "Project Peter Pan is putting aside any assumptions, generalisations, and unhelpful narratives about the generations of young adults who have had, and are having, a really hard time. They are the most informed as digital natives and often ambitious yet the reality of the day to day thanks to crippling costs is - unless they come from wealth - getting decent accommodation or on the property ladder remains a dream. This is just stage one of the campaign - listening - there is more to come and our National World titles intend to make a stand for the lost generations across the UK. Politicians should take heed of these crucial voices."

National World says the following titles are taking part:

Glasgow World, Manchester World, Yorkshire Evening Post, The Star Sheffield, Lancashire Post, Blackpool Gazette, Derby World, Nottingham World, London World, Shields Gazette, The News - Portsmouth, Liverpool World, Bristol World, Newcastle World, Birmingham World, Sunderland Echo, Edinburgh Evening News.

Keep up-to-date with publishing news: sign up here for InPubWeekly, our free weekly e-newsletter.