Young People

Young people collaborate on efforts to help them overcome Covid-19 pandemic impacts

  • The Young Person’s Guarantee is an evolving offer of immediate support and future commitments from organisations to help young people following the coronavirus crisis
  • A group of young people, aged 11 to 30, kept the Guarantee focused on priorities identified through earlier consultation
  • Free data packages for students, expanded online counselling, pre-employment training, funded work placements and travel support among offers made to young people
  • Organisations across the city-region commit to generating over 1,000 individual opportunities to help with challenges such as employment, mental health and keeping connected

Organisations across Greater Manchester have joined together to commit support for young people across the city-region following the devastating impacts of Covid-19, with pledges including funded work placements, free data packages and travel support.

The Young Person’s Guarantee recognises young people have suffered significantly from the fallout of the coronavirus crisis. Since the start of the pandemic, youth unemployment has risen nationally to 14.6%, while the Office for National Statistics said nationally there were 370,000 redundancies in the three months to October. Schools and colleges across the city-region have faced constant disruption, with many students learning from home in very mixed circumstances.

As a result of this Greater Manchester’s Youth Task Force focused the work of the Young Person’s Guarantee on addressing the issues that young people told us mattered most to them, aiming to help hundreds of thousands of young people across the 10 Greater Manchester boroughs. These fell into four broad, interconnected themes:

  • Keeping connected
  • Staying well
  • Preparing for transition back into work and/or education
  • Reducing economic inequalities

In addition to the Young Person’s Guarantee, travel support is also available for young people through the Our Pass card, giving those aged 16-18 access to free bus travel and reduced tram tickets. Our Pass was launched as a two-year pilot in September 2019, and recognising the disruption to the pilot caused by the pandemic, the Mayor is proposing to extend the pilot by another year as part of his 2021/22 budget. Since launching more than 60,000 cards have been issued and eligibility has been extended to care leavers until the age of 21, with 304 taking up the opportunity.

The Greater Manchester Combined Authority is also launching a new campaign called No Child Goes Hungry, following the success of the October pilot where 1,000 pre-paid cards were made available in the 10 boroughs for vulnerable children to buy a meal. The campaign aims to build on existing local partnerships with Councils and VCSE organisations to provide a safety platform to ensure No Child Goes Hungry as well as tackle the inequalities across the city-region which creates food poverty. For December, the campaign will support young people who need immediate access to food and families who are in financial difficulties but are unable to access government support. This work will be funded through the Greater Manchester Mayor’s Charity.

Andy Burnham, Mayor of Greater Manchester, said: “It is vital we recognise the hardships facing young people as a result of the pandemic. If we do not offer support now, young people are at risk of becoming a lost generation as we recover and deal with the fallout from the coronavirus crisis. It’s been a really terrible year for young people and their future needs to be prioritised.

“I am proud of all the hard work the Youth Advisory Group and the Youth Task Force have put in place to start delivering real benefits to young people under the Young Person’s Guarantee. This is a catalyst for action across Greater Manchester and will be a lifeline for our young people across our city-region’s 10 boroughs.

“I am also pleased to confirm to our current GCSE students that they will also be able to benefit from Our Pass for two years after school. I hope that will give many the confidence to keep following their aspirations and set their sights as high as they want to.”

Diane Modahl, Chair of Greater Manchester’s Youth Task Force, said: “The Young Person’s Guarantee is a commitment to supporting all our young people to have the best start in life. Most importantly, young people have been put at its heart and have helped to inform the entire process.

“Throughout the process I’ve been guided and influenced by my co-chairs, aged 11-30, on the Youth Advisory Group who represented the priorities identified through the consultation. Together we have recognised the challenges that exist for young people and most importantly identified the solutions. The recommendations provide an authentic picture of the impact Covid-19 has had on the city-region’s young people and the action we can take to support them.

“We’ve now established 1,000 commitments from organisations across Greater Manchester, and I extend my appeal to other businesses to come forward and get involved to make sure we don’t have a lost generation of young people.”

The Youth Task Force team identified new and already existing opportunities for young people which could help in the short to medium term. A large number of partners have stepped forward to offer opportunities for young people in the city-region, generating more than 1,000 opportunities for young people, ranging from The Growth Company, to Vodafone, Virgin Media, UA92 and Fast Futures.

Some of the offers include free data packages for secondary school and college students, online counselling for those struggling with their mental health through the online Kooth platform, pre-employment training through the Factory Academy and redundancy support for young people affected by the pandemic through DWP.

A lack of a central information point was also raised as a problem and as a result the already existing Greater Manchester Careers and Apprenticeship (GMACS) platform was adapted into a wider resource for 11-30-year-olds. It is now home to a variety of information on health, activity and community support to supplement existing resources around education, training and careers.

Councillor Sean Fielding, lead for Digital, Education, Skills, Work and Apprenticeships, said: “It is great that so many organisations in our city-region acknowledge the challenges facing young people and are offering support in terms of creating apprenticeships and funded work placements, as well as making sure they are connected digitally. These are important and necessary measures needed to ensure we do not have a workforce suffering from a lack of skills and preparation for working life.”

Councillor Eamonn O’Brien, lead for Children and Young People, said: “It’s been a really tough year and in particular we know young people are bearing the brunt of the pandemic. The Young Person’s Guarantee recognises this and connects young people to organisations that can help support their mental health. Young people also need to be assisted with the transition from school to university or the workplace, particularly after months of learning at home, and measures such as pre-employment training will help to aid this process.”

Tim Heatley, Chair of the Greater Manchester Mayor’s Charity, added: “I’m proud that we’re able to help with the vital efforts to ensure No Child Goes Hungry in Greater Manchester this winter and beyond. As the Charity has grown over the years, so has our work and the causes we fund. It’s a scar on our city-region that there are children going without food and the Covid crisis has only made things work. I would urge anyone who wants to help us to donate to”

The Mayor of Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham, appointed Diane Modahl as chair of the Youth Task Force as it became apparent young people were facing difficulties as a result of the pandemic. A group of young people aged 11 to 30, from a variety of different backgrounds, were selected to form the Youth Advisory Group. The group played a central role in forming the guarantee by identifying challenges facing young people and the members worked with Diane to identify solutions to those problems.

Some of the commitments and offers put forward by organisations across Greater Manchester include:

  • Digital kits for unemployed young people via Jobcentre Plus and The Prince’s Trust
  • Free refurbished bikes, safety equipment and training for apprentices via Transport for Greater Manchester’s cycling support programme
  • Wellbeing Resource Parks for 22,000 young people who are digitally excluded or marginalised, funded by GM’s Creative Industries and the GMCA
  • Online counselling funding through the Kooth platform, funded by GMHSCP and the Prince’s Trust
  • Higher Education grants of £5k for young people affected by COVID-19, for programmes delivered by UA92
  • Leadership training and mentoring for BAME young people via the new Operation Black Vote programme
  • Funded six-month work placements via the Kickstart Scheme
  • Funding to support development of 50+ new apprenticeships for underrepresented groups via GMCA’s Removing Barriers to Apprenticeships programme

Article Published: 18/12/2020 13:39 PM