A TEENAGER has described winning the support of a Conservative council to press the prime minister for action to help young people disadvantaged by Coronavirus as “a fabulous step forward”.

Queen Elizabeth College politics, economics and history student Joshua Mitchell had told Darlington Borough Council many of his friends and other young people are “facing unparalleled challenges when it comes to life beyond the impact of coronavirus”.

A full meeting of the authority heard a question by the 17-year-old read to the council’s children and young people’s portfolio holder, Councillor Jon Clarke, in which Joshua highlighted how young people would be disadvantaged by Coronavirus for decades to come, exacerbating mental health challenges, hitting younger workers jobs and pay, and widening educational inequalities.

Joshua said young people would be the generation that dealt with the consequences of Covid-19 for the longest.

He stated: “Not one of the Government’s support packages have focused on the specific issues young people are facing. Young people have been needlessly excluded from the conversation on Coronavirus. They deserve to have their voices heard and their questions answered.

“It is crucial that the Government step in and provide support to the generation of young people who have had their opportunities taken away by this crisis.”

He asked if Cllr Clarke agreed Covid-19 had exacerbated some problems for young people and asked him to send a letter to Boris Johnson calling on the Government to engage with young people about the impact of the virus.

Cllr Clarke said he wholeheartedly agreed to Joshua’s requests, adding young people would be affected by the pandemic, which was “really sad to see”. He said he would put his name to the letter to Boris Johnson, agreed to visit the college to speak to the students about their experiences and said that he would outline more local plans to help young people.

However, he said the Government had already started putting into place initiatives such as £2 billion for the Kick Start scheme to create more jobs for 16 to 24-year-olds, as well as paying businesses to take on trainees and apprentices and offering extra support to help young people find employment.