The Mayor of #London Sadiq Khan has warned the capital’s services for young people face going “back to square one”

Channel 1 Los Angeles

8/3/2020 London

London’s community and charities that provide services for young Londoners have been hit hard by the impact of Covid-19 and lockdown, with nearly a third reporting that they face closure within six months due to finances and struggling to cover running costs, according to new data compiled by London Youth. Nearly half (47 per cent) of those surveyed by London Youth had to furlough staff and 78 per cent are regularly working with fewer young people than they were before lockdown.

Without access to education or opportunities provided by services dedicated to young people that are often a lifeline for the most vulnerable, lockdown has heavily impacted young Londoners with nearly three-quarters of community organisations saying that the mental health of their young people has been affected.

The Mayor shares concerns about young people’s physical health and mental health, their employment and financial situations, and the risk of them becoming involved in serious violence as lockdown eases.

The Mayor, and London’s Violence Reduction Unit, have invested £2.1 million to support projects for young Londoners 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. During the pandemic, City Hall also joined a network of more than 60 funders who collectively invested more than £20m to support civil society organisations and charities in providing much-needed services, such as foodbanks and supporting vulnerable Londoners, during a time of rising demand but shrinking resources. This is on top of the Mayor’s £70m investment in young Londoners.

But despite support from City Hall, the Mayor is concerned about losing vital clubs and centres in London, at a time when young Londoners need their support now more than ever.

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said: “At a time when we need our amazing community groups and local charities to provide support for young people more than ever, the impact of Covid-19 means many are struggling to survive.

“I’m leading from the front to tackle violent crime in London – by being both tough on crime and tough on the causes of crime. The key is investing in young people across our city.

“During the last decade of Government austerity, ministers slashed police and youth services – causing violent crime to rise in London and across the UK.  Now we are in danger of going back to square one under a new era of austerity, as the Government refuses to compensate Londoners for the cost of Covid-19. Unless they urgently give us the funding we need, they risk undoing all of the hard work we have been doing in London to support young people. Now is the time to invest in our youth services, our communities and our police – not more cuts.”

Lib Peck, Director of London’s Violence Reduction Unit, today visited HR Sports Academy in Tottenham that has received funding from City Hall and is offering opportunities and activities for young people during the summer holidays.

She said: “I want to thank our youth clubs and our hardworking youth workers who have gone above and beyond to do everything they can to support our young people during lockdown.

“It’s clear we face further challenges as lockdown restrictions are eased and that means addressing the impact that the pandemic has had on young people’s mental health, education and opportunities.

“London’s Violence Reduction Unit is committed to working with our youth services and our investment from City Hall will help some of those hardest hit to provide positive opportunities for our young people throughout the summer and autumn. But we’ve got to do more and that requires a national commitment for funding and support to help our youth services who continue to play such a crucial role in violence reduction.”

Rosemary Watt-Wyness, Chief Executive of London Youth, said: “Community youth organisations play a crucial role in the lives of thousands of young people; building confidence and skills and nurturing trusted support and relationships. Over lockdown they have been at the heart of communities, supporting parents as well. Now, just when young people are facing huge challenges to their wellbeing and employment prospects, many youth projects face a very uncertain future. We are calling on government to turn the tide of years of cuts and invest in our youth services.”

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