By Diane Modahl, 3rd February 2021
Diane Modahl began her career as a middle-distance runner with highlights including winning the 800 meters at the 1990 Commonwealth Games. Since retiring from being an athlete Diane has dedicated her time to supporting young people, founding the Diane Modahl Sports Foundation in 2010. The Foundation works with young people from disadvantaged areas across the North West, enabling them to make the most of themselves in sport, school and life.
In June 2020 the Mayor of Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham, announced his appointment of Diane Modahl as Chair of the new Youth Task Force for Greater Manchester. More recently, Diane was asked by the Mayor to take a lead on the Greater Manchester Tech Fund. We spoke to Diane about this work and the importance of supporting young people during these difficult times.
In Greater Manchester, we believe that our young people deserve every chance to fulfil their potential. In 2020, I was delighted to accept the opportunity to Chair the Youth Task Force for Greater Manchester to drive forward the Young Persons Guarantee.
The Young Person’s Guarantee was established by the Mayor last year in response to the ongoing struggles the coronavirus pandemic was having on young people across Greater Manchester. To gain an understanding of the issues that mattered most to local young people, a consultation was carried out as part of the Young Person’s Guarantee for Greater Manchester. The consultation found that young people needed better internet access and more support for those who are digitally marginalized to prevent them becoming social disconnected and falling behind in their education.
When the Mayor launched Phase two of the Greater Manchester Tech Fund last month, as an emergency response to the schools and colleges once again being closed, myself and Andy agreed I would be best placed to lead on this latest drive to businesses to support our most disadvantaged young people. The Fund is an emergency response to help support digitally-excluded young people with the technology and connectivity needed to continue their learning at home while schools and colleges remain closed.
Despite the National Government Programme of support, GMCA estimates that 15,000-20,000 young people will still be left behind, unable to continue their learning remotely. Young people themselves have told us that having the tools to continue their education and positively engage in their communities is integral to them during these challenging times.
We are appealing to businesses help us support young people to thrive by pledging to:
Make a financial donation to enable us to purchase devices and data connectivity packages
Donate new devices particularly laptops, Chromebooks and iPads
Donate data packages, portable hotspots, dongles and other connectivity devices
Donate pre-loved working devices under 8 years old which will be repurposed by Business in the Community to support a young person in schools or colleges in GM.