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Motion seeks ‘Student Support Grant’ to help lessen ‘severe impact’ of Covid-19 on young people

The motion - if approved - would see Stormont ministers lobbied for a grant for 'full time third level students, many of whom cannot gain any employment at this time and are unable to claim benefits'

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Two SDLP councillors are seeking the backing of all parties in calling for Stormont ministers to establish a Student Support Grant to help those badly hit as a result of the current pandemic.

Gary Stokes and Dermot Curran will bring a notice of motion to Newry, Mourne and Down District Council in a bid to seek a range of measures aimed at helping those in third level education.

They say that while the Covid-19 pandemic has affected everyone, the impact on young people has “been severe”.

The motion asks that council “recognises the difficulties faced by those young people in full-time third level education, both at universities and further education colleges, who, because of restrictions, are unable to attend classes in person or live in student accommodation which they have paid for”.

And they are asking councillors also to acknowledge that many university students have found themselves “suffering financial hardship which has caused significant distress and led to poor mental health”.

For this reason, the SDLP representatives are asking for support which would see the council “call on university accommodation providers and private landlords who have not provided rent waivers to do so immediately”.

And their motion – if approved – would also see the council lobby the Department for the Economy and Department of Finance, by writing to ask both to “develop and fund a Student Support Grant for all full time third level students, many of whom cannot gain any employment at this time and are unable to claim benefits”.

The motion has been scheduled for debate at the monthly sitting of Newry, Mourne and Down District Council on Monday.

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