fbpx New Year's Resolution for London - A Mayor That Puts Young People First? - London Youth

13 January 2016

A New Year’s resolution for London – a Mayor that puts young people first?

Part of this blog was originally posted on Huffington Post on Tuesday 13 January 2016. Click here to see the Huffington Post Article.

Rosie Ferguson, Chief Executive here at London Youth, asks the London Mayor to put the young people of the capital first. 

In just over 100 days, Londoners will go to the polls to elect a new Mayor as Boris Johnson ends his second and final term.

London is a city of rapid and continuing change.  It is only 4 years since the Olympics and Paralympics – a hugely celebratory and momentous period for everyone in the country, never mind the capital. And it is quite hard to believe that back in 2008 and the last time we had a new Mayor, there was no Shard, no rentable bikes or cycle superhighways; and no Thames cable car.

While one could look in awe at the numbers of cranes on the skyline and the new developments which are springing up in pretty much every available plot of London land, far too many Londoners still face challenges. There are over half a million young Londoners living in poverty. While schools have improved for many, there are still large groups of young people in the capital who aren’t able to reach their potential. London is expensive; and can be more dangerous for young people than other age groups, with knife and gang crime still challenging in many areas. Housing is a huge worry for those growing up or arriving in the capital, as is finding a job which will pay enough to give you a reasonable quality of life while still giving opportunities to learn and develop.

So as we begin the countdown to the election of the new mayor – and of the Assembly which will work with her or him to implement their agenda – there is a huge and pressing case to be made for young people to take centre stage in the campaign. We want to see the candidates out bidding each other in their visions for what the capital could offer young Londoners.

London Youth, London Funders and Partnership for Young London spent much of 2015 building a shared vision across a wide coalition of organisations and funders of organisations which work with young people, and now have a set of clear and specific asks which we want all the Mayoral candidates to sign up to. These are:

  1. Appoint a Deputy Mayor for young people to prioritise their needs and contribution across all policy areas. It needs to be someone who is accountable and who can make sure that everything the Mayor does takes into account its impact on young people, whether they are a young person themselves or not.                              

  2. Create a strategic plan to meet young Londoners’ housing needs. Housing is the number one issue for young people, yet too often their needs are ignored. If young Londoners are to make the contribution that they are capable of, they need affordable, secure and appropriate places to live.                                                        

  3. Guarantee all young Londoners the chance to play, volunteer, participate in sport, and take advantage of London’s fantastic cultural offer. London is a brilliant place, with great things to do and opportunities to enjoy. Let’s make them open and accessible to everyone.                                                     

  4. Back votes at 16 for all future London elections. We’ve missed the boat this time round. Let’s not deny young people a voice any longer.                                                                                                           

  5. Reward employers who recruit young Londoners, and encourage companies to work with their local community to open up meaningful work experience opportunities for all. Employers tell us they want to employ young Londoners. Let’s reward those who do, and let’s build great careers advice through services like the London Ambitions Careers Offer, work experience opportunities and support inside and outside school.

  6. Make London a healthier place to grow up, focusing on health inequalities, better mental health services and a bigger say for young people in local health priorities. It is a busy, pressured capital – we need to make sure young Londoners have the support they need to thrive and survive.                                                   

London is a great city and the new Mayor will have a huge responsibility. No more so than to the millions of young people who represent it and all of our futures.

We’ve already met with Sian Berry and have a date in with Caroline Pidgeon, who are the Green and Liberal Democrat Mayoral candidates respectively. They’ve taken note of our agenda, and have both pledged to visit youth organisations and hear the views of young people throughout the campaign.

Over the coming months, we’ll be seeking to meet with the other Mayoral candidates from the main parties, and to bring them into dialogue with young people and with the youth workers who are there for them within communities across the capital. We’ll be asking them about their priorities for young Londoners and telling them what we want them to do differently.

And we’re very hopeful that there will be at least one Mayoral hustings with a specific focus on young people – so will be encouraging as many of our member youth clubs and partner organisations to get involved and put their questions and concerns to the candidates.

London is a great city and the new Mayor will have a huge responsibility. No more so than to the millions of young people who represent it and all of our futures.

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