Ken Livingstone yesterday announced a £5 million ‘Young Londoners Fund’ as part of his office described as ‘the biggest investment in young people in the capital for a generation’.
According tot the Mayor’s office the fund will support voluntary and community groups working to get London’s teenagers back into education or training. It will work alongside the Metropolitan Police which has pledged £4 million to fund projects aimed at tackling violent and anti-social crime.
The Young Londoners Fund forms part of a £79 million package announced by the Mayor and central Government last December.
Speaking yesterday Mayor Livingstone said: “Decades of under investment and neglect left thousands of young Londoners in the capital’s poorest communities with few other options than spending time on the streets and getting involved in crime and gangs.”
Mr Livingstone more funding “is needed to increase the range of services for teenagers, provide more support for parents and give the children and teenagers from London’s poorest communities positive alternatives to crime and gangs. The Young Londoners Fund will support the voluntary and community groups who are currently working with young people on the poorest estates.”
Commander Rod Jarman of the Metropolitan Police said their funding would “see a significant enhancement of Safer Schools Partnerships with more dedicated schools officers supported by an additional 102 PCSOs.”
There was support from organisations working with youth in the capital. Melvyn Davis, Director of Male Development Service boyztoMEN said voluntary sector groups “have traditionally been under funded in their work in tackling the hardest to reach and most disaffected.”
Mr Davis added called for better targeting of resources to ensure they helped “children and teenagers, predominately males, who are most at risk” and expressed hope that “some of this funding will be used to fund more mentoring programmes and training for staff and volunteers to be able to prevent the next generation of young people growing up feeling that gangs and crime are as viable options; as further education and employment.”