London Youth have been awarded a £152,374 grant from the Big Lottery Fund to support an exciting new project in North London. Working through established youth organisations embedded in local communities, YouthLeads will put young people from Enfield, Haringey and Waltham Forest in the lead – giving them leadership training and supporting them to develop positive activities that address local issues. As Centre for London launch #LeadLDN, a mission to find London’s next leaders, Gareth Price, our Head of Development, reflects on why YouthLeads is so timely…

As part of Centre for London’s #LeadLDN mission they recently looked at the capital’s ‘5 biggest problems’ and showcased some of the positive responses people and organisations are creating to solve them.

One of the 5 problems cited is social exclusion. How do we go about creating a level playing field in the capital amidst financial and political uncertainty? London Youth is combatting this issue by working with our network of 280 community youth organisations to champion the social inclusion of young Londoners – particularly those who risk missing out on opportunities others might take for granted as they’re growing up.

Through our youth club network, we encourage inactive young people into regular sport in their youth clubs, support those that find it hardest to get into work into meaningful careers, and reconnect young people who don’t spend much time out-of-doors with the natural environment. But it’s also clear that if we want to create a level playing field for all young people, solutions need to be co-produced that focus on particular localities as well as issues.

2,843,078 young people live in London and, as inner London becomes increasingly unaffordable, 61% of them now live in the outer boroughs. Whilst places like Tower Hamlets and Hackney still face high levels of child poverty, four of the six boroughs with the highest populations of young people are now in the outer north and west of the capital. And young people in many of these areas, facing historically low levels of out-of-school provision and the shutting down of local authority youth services, risk growing up on a distinctly uneven playing field.

The YouthLeads project emerged through London Youth working with our member youth clubs in some of these places at risk of being left out – projects and community organisations in Edmonton and Northumberland Park, Lea Bridge and Ponders End. We went into these organisations – places where young people feel safe – and listened to what they had to say. Young people from Leyton said they worried about their peers being drawn into knife crime and other criminal activity when there aren’t enough positive activities for them to do; those in Tottenham urgently requested more help developing life skills; and others in Edmonton, with a lot of families re-housed in their neighbourhood, said they wanted more activities that connect different communities together.

Now thanks to this new backing from Big Lottery Fund, we’re going to work alongside 12 of these youth organisations in Enfield, Haringey and Waltham Forest to support young people to come up with their own solutions to issues in their local communities.

bit lottery logoThe YouthLeads groups might use their ingenuity to create a new local dance festival, self-defence classes for the people living on their estate or a come dine with me event that showcases the culinary specialities of a particular section of their community. We don’t yet know, because they’re in the lead. But we hope that as Centre for London’s #LeadLDN campaign gathers pace, their voice and ideas are included.

If you’d like to find out more about our new YouthLeads programme, please click here.