Mayor Sadiq Khan talks to a young person at the Osmani Centre
Chandrashekhar Bhatt and Sarwar Alam
YOUNG Londoners in need of support will have access to “dedicated mentors” by 2024 to help them reach their potential, the city’s mayor announced on Wednesday (9).
A manifesto pledge of Sadiq Khan, the initiative aims to cover children who have been excluded from school or college or impacted by exploitation and domestic violence.
It also covers those living in poverty or involved in the care system.
There are roughly 100,000 young people in London who face these kinds of challenges.
Young Londoners have been disproportionately impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic with a third either losing their jobs or being furloughed, compared to one in six older adults, according to Resolution Foundation.
Many young people are working in insecure jobs with many on temporary or zero-hour contracts.
Khan announced a £7.2 million investment from City Hall to expand the mentoring offer in the capital.
The new fund consists of £4.8m for three programmes to boost mentoring capacity.
It will expand mentoring for young people, including in science, technology, engineering, arts and maths, and support local organisations to provide training and work experience.
The mayor said London’s Violence Reduction Unit, which he set up in 2019, will invest £2.4m in a three-year mentoring programme to tackle school exclusions.
Khan, who visited the Osmani Trust in Blackwell Reach, said he was “determined” to put young people at the heart of London’s recovery efforts.
He said his initiative “will not only help prevent vulnerable young Londoners from being exploited or sucked into gangs and violence but provide a helping hand for Londoners to reach their potential”.
“Working in partnership with London Councils and boroughs, community groups, the youth sector and others across our city, I’m determined to ensure that every young Londoner in need of support has the positive opportunities and role model they deserve. This will play a critical part in helping us build a safer, fairer and more prosperous city, where no one is left behind.”
Khan told Eastern Eye that it is important for young people to have dedicated mentors and role models who can give advice and support. He gave his own example of how he benefited from great teachers and sports coaches.
Referring to role models, Khan had a word of praise for the founder of Asian Media Group (AMG), the late Raminklal Solanki, a pioneer of journalism in the UK.
“Mr Solanki did a great job with firstly Gujarati newspapers and then with other publications. I could see (Asian) people in senior positions because of the newspapers he was producing.”
Georgia Gould, chair of London Councils, said, “With four in 10 of London’s children living in poverty, working with trusted and inspiring adult mentors can help children and young people navigate some of the challenges that they face and go on to achieve their goals”.