Mayor of Manchester Andy Burnham has appointed former Olympic athlete and Commonwealth gold medal winner Diane Modahl to lead a task force to help young people across Greater Manchester get jobs when the health crisis ends.

The Young Person’s Task Force has been set up in response to the impact the COVID-19 crisis is having on young people.

It will listen to what they need as part of the COVID-19 recovery process. This will include direct engagement with young people and youth organisations as well as with colleges, training providers and business.

For example, the decision to close schools and colleges as part of the national response to the coronavirus pandemic has already had a significant impact on the lives of thousands of young people across Greater Manchester.

And with all pupils not going back to schools until September now, the consequences on young people’s cognitive development and attainment could be severe, with the most disadvantaged young people likely to fall even further behind.

The work of the Task Force will be key to supporting young people during this precarious time and to help ensure their life chances and opportunities are there for them as Greater Manchester adapts to a post-COVID world.

“These are tough times for everyone but more so for young people who are at risk of being a lost generation if we don’t put in place the support they need now and as we recover from the coronavirus pandemic,” said Andy Burnham.

“We must make sure the 2020s are not like the 1980s with so many young people left on the scrap heap.”

Mayor sets up task force to help young people get on track and get jobs post pandemic I Love Manchester
Diane winning the 800m title at the 1990 Commonwealth Games. Credit Mark Shearman

Diane Modahl retired from competition in 2002 but has remained heavily involved in sport and went on to establish the Diane Modahl Sports Foundation alongside her husband, Olympic coach Vicente Modahl, as a way of helping young people from disadvantaged areas benefit from everything sport can offer; enabling them to make the most of themselves in sport, education and employability.

“I know how hard this health crisis has been for young people who haven’t been able to go back to school and college, who’ve been laid off work or struggling to get apprenticeships and jobs,” she said.

“We must make sure we do everything we can to help them. I’m looking forward to getting out there and talking to young people to find out what their concerns are and what support they need.”

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