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Sadiq Khan hears as youngsters share views on London’s biggest challenges at youth summit

Some of the participants’ ideas were shared with the mayor who had asked his Violence Reduction Unit to gather ideas of young people to make London a better place and prepare a ‘Voice of Young Londoners’ report.

London mayor Sadiq Khan with youngsters at London Hope Hack event on February 16, 2023. (Picture: London mayor press office)

By: Shubham Ghosh

Hundreds of youngsters on Thursday (16) put forward ideas and solutions to some of London’s biggest challenges in a special ‘Voice of Young Londoners’ report for Sadiq Khan, the capital’s mayor.

More than 250 young participants gathered at the iconic London Stadium along with the mayor for the ‘London Hope Hack’ event which was organised by London’s Violence Reduction Unit (VRU) and its Young People’s Action Group (YPAG). The goal was to bring together young people and provide them a platform to tackle key societal issues such as cost-of-living crisis, education, mental health and racism.

London mayor Sadiq Khan interacts with youngsters at London Hope Hack event on February 16, 2023.
London mayor Sadiq Khan interacts with youngsters at London Hope Hack event on February 16, 2023. (Picture: London mayor press office)

The participants, aged between 14 and 25, took part in workshops that outlined the changes young Londoners would like to see to make the city a safer and fairer place to live and grow up in. They accessed programmes funded by the VRU to tackle violence and deliver positive opportunities.

Some of the youngsters’ ideas were shared directly with Khan who had asked his VRU to capture views of young people throughout the day and prepare a ‘Voice of Young Londoners’ report. The mayor was set to use the report’s findings to help inform his response to the big challenge that the city is facing.

Khan is dedicated to amplifying the voices of young people and said that his VRU was welcoming applications for a new cohort to join its agenda-setting YPAG. The YPAG is a group of young Londoners with lived experiences of violence, exploitation and school exclusion, that works alongside the VRU to ensure funding, programmes and policies work for and are shaped by young people.

London Hope Hack
A young participant speaks at London Hope Hack event on February 16, 2023. (Picture: London mayor press office)

Also present at the event was Carlton Cole, the former West Ham United, Chelsea and England striker who is currently a broadcaster, West Ham United Academy coach and an ambassador for West Ham and West Ham United Foundation, its community-focused organisation.

Cole is also in the middle of setting up a new mentoring programme — Be Heard As One — which aims to offer bespoke one-to-one support and mentoring services, including door-stop intervention, workshops, and therapy, to children, young people and young adults in Newham.

The VRU is bringing its network together to facilitate workshops and support young people on the day.

Youth workers, members from the VRU’s parents and carers champion network, its community-led programme MyEnds, and the YPAG will be involved in leading the day and working to promote and amplify the voice of young people.

The London Hope Hack – the biggest of its kind in the UK – is supported by the Hope Collective and the National Citizen Service, and follows others across the country, including Greater Manchester, Reading, the Midlands and Glasgow.

London Hope Hack
A participant speaks at London Hope Hack event on February 16, 2023. (Picture: London mayor press office)

Khan said, “Your background, social class and skin colour should have no bearing on how safe you feel in your neighbourhood or what you can go on to achieve.

“That’s why I set up London’s Violence Reduction Unit – the first in England and Wales – to support young people in fulfilling their potential and to ensure they have access to thousands of positive opportunities.

“I’m really looking forward to the London Hope Hack and hearing from young people about the challenges they face and the ideas and solutions they propose, because I’m committed to building a safer and fairer London for everyone.”

Reannah Britto, a member of YPAG, said, “The London Hope Hack gives young people in our communities the platform they might not usually get to put their ideas and solutions forward.

London Hope Hack
A scene from London Hope Hack event on February 16, 2023. (Picture: London mayor press office)

“We have a motto in the YPAG which is: Nothing about us, without us. Young people have ideas, views and solutions to the issues and challenges facing us. They need a platform and that’s what we do. We work to ensure young people’s voices are heard and involved in decision-making. It’s fantastic that the mayor of London has asked us to help capture those views at London Hope Hack to ensure decisions he makes in tackling key issues in our city continue to be informed by the views of young people.”

Lib Peck, director of London’s Violence Reduction Unit, said, “Listening and working with young people are at the very heart of everything we do as a Violence Reduction Unit.

“The London Hope Hack is an opportunity for young people to help shape how we tackle some of the big issues that affect society, and in some circumstances, disproportionately impact young people.

London Hope Hack
Young participants at London Hope Hack event on February 16, 2023. (Picture: London mayor press office)

“Our Young People’s Action Group is leading the way in doing just that in London. I would encourage young Londoners wanting to join them and use their voice to support young people and our communities to apply and help us promote hope through access to positive opportunities.”

Cole said, “It’s great to see a commitment from a range of organisations and services in supporting young people across London. The violence we are seeing affects all of us and so we all need to do our part in helping to improve the situation, particularly for young people, so they don’t feel forced into negative situations.

“I’m proud to be part of the work West Ham United Foundation are doing locally and also to be working with a team in Newham where we are looking to set up Be Heard As One to provide tailored support for young people. We believe all young people should have the same opportunities to be healthy and happy, no matter where they grow up, and this event is a good building block for the future.”

Joseph Lyons, West Ham United Foundation CEO, said, “We are committed to doing everything we can to harness the power of sport to make a positive difference to individuals, groups and communities and we know that youth voice is at the forefront of that. Issues linked to violence across the local area are multi-faceted and so the way in which we tackle them has to be flexible and comprehensive based on the need.

“This event is a great platform for young people to share their challenges, concerns and ideas in order to help support decision-makers in creating a safer and fairer London.”

Professor Niven Rennie, executive director of Hope Collective, said, “The Hope Hacks are going from strength to strength around the country where Violence Reduction Units and grassroots community organisations create a safe space and a fun environment for young people to discuss their ideas for what a fairer society might look like.

“We all know that a fairer society would lead to a safer society for young people to grow up and thrive in and that’s the goal of the VRU network of course.

“Delighted to see the progress being made in London and excited to visit the London Stadium and be part of what I’m sure will be one of the best Hope Hacks so far.”

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