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The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, has today announced he is investing £2.1 million to provide positive opportunities and a package of focused support for vulnerable young Londoners who have been most impacted by the COVID-19 lockdown.
This investment is part of the measures Sadiq is taking to tackle serious youth violence as lockdown restrictions are eased. City Hall funding will support youth work projects over the summer and autumn that are dedicated to improving the wellbeing and opportunities of young people aged up to 25 across London, including some of the most vulnerable young people and their families. Youth services have been on the frontline of a near-decade of damaging Government cuts, with figures showing that there has been a 46 per cent reduction in national funding for youth services in the capital since 2011. Following lockdown, a UK Youth report highlighted that 72 per cent of youth services say they need access to emergency funds. Sadiq is calling on the Government to avoid another deeply damaging period of austerity, which would devastate the youth sector and the vital lifeline it provides to vulnerable young people. City Hall research, backed up by the UK Youth report on the impact of COVID-19, shows that lockdown has had a significant impact on young people’s mental health, wellbeing, loneliness, activity levels and future opportunities, and continues to have a disproportionate impact on vulnerable young people.
A third of 18 to 24-year-old employees, excluding students, have either lost their jobs or been furloughed, compared to one-in-six older adults.
A large proportion of young people feel their future career prospects have already been damaged by the pandemic according to a recent survey by the Prince’s Trust, with a third feeling that everything they have worked for is now “going to waste.”
Wider concerns about the effects of the coronavirus lockdown include increased isolation, challenging family relationships, the lack of safe spaces with many youth services closed, and the subsequent higher risk of young people becoming involved in gangs or other negative influences.
New funding announced today by the Mayor is now available for projects responding to the needs of communities affected by COVID-19 across all 33 London boroughs, via the London Community Response.
The majority of the investment is from the Mayor’s Young Londoner’s Fund which is already supporting more than 300 education, sport and cultural activity projects to help tackle knife crime and provide positive opportunities for young people across the capital. More than 110,000 young Londoners are set to benefit from these activities, and over 75 per cent of Young Londoners Fund projects continued delivering much needed support over the lockdown period. The Mayor’s investment will fund after-school sport and activity, particularly for young people who are vulnerable to crime and anti-social behaviour.
London’s Violence Reduction Unit, which is leading the public-health approach to tackling the causes of crime in the capital, has contributed to the fund and its investment will support key frontline youth services working to tackle violence in the city.
The Mayor made the announcement during a visit to Mossbourne Riverside Academy in Hackney where he got to see his funding in action. The academy delivers sports and other positive activities, including photojournalism projects, and are continuing with their work with social distancing measures in place.
David Farnsworth, Chair of London Funders said: “Throughout the pandemic, all members of the London Community Response have proven their commitment to being flexible and able to respond to the fast-changing needs of the communities we stand with. This grant will help us to ensure that the young people who in many ways have been hardest hit by the lockdown have a chance to get out of the house and take part in healthy, positive activities with their friends.”
Nana Badu, Founder and CEO, Badu Sports said: “Members of our community have felt lonely, concerned about safety and confused by conflicting guidance. As a result many haven’t allowed their children to do any exercise, and this has been particularly worrying for Black, Asian and ethnic minority families. This pilot has allowed us to explore learnings about behaviour, engagement and motivation during socially distanced sport. The young people have excelled during the opportunity and told us it supported them in combating isolation, boredom and a sense of entrapment. Colleagues from some Hackney secondary schools came to support and engage with the learning to inform their own provision in schools going forward. Overall, this has been a valuable opportunity to collaborate and create a solutions-focused package based on what is possible, rather than what we couldn’t do.”
Sophie Ramsey, PE Teacher, The City Academy, Hackney said: “The girls have looked so happy, being able to socialise again through sport and getting to know each other even though they had to stay 2 metres apart. This is a credit to the coaching team for firstly giving the girls the opportunity, but also being so creative with the sporting drills and skills. Sessions were really well planned and there are lots of insights and positives that I will be adopting and applying to teaching and learning at my school.”
Dr Sabir Bham, Founder and Director, Salaam Peace said: “There have been significant issues with young people and young adults struggling with isolation and lack of physical activity during lockdown, leading to many ignoring social distancing rules. On witnessing this, Salaam Peace delivered some physical activity programmes with social distancing incorporated. We contacted the Mayor’s office to gain support with pushing this agenda forward, helping to ensure our deprived communities would be served in a safe and secure environment, as tested by this pilot with our good friends, Badu Sports.”
Amy Wood, Principal, Mossbourne Riverside Academy said: “I have been very impressed to see BADU Sports adapting to the new social distanced sport activities. It is great to see people exercising together safely. Our pupils are keen to learn how to participate in sports under the new guidelines and hope for BADU to lead this. We hope our pupils will benefit from summer programmes to help them keep fit and engaged with learning collaboratively in a safe environment. This will then hopefully pave the way to restart sporting clubs in schools.”