Sadiq Khan, the Mayor of London, visited Selhurst Park yesterday to see for himself some of the impact the investment of public money from the Mayor’s Young Londoners’ Fund is having through mentoring schemes and school holiday activities at Crystal Palace Football Club.
Mentoring is the latest phase of the Kicks programme available to young people needing support to reach their full potential and to prevent them getting caught up in violent crime.
This is one element of a three-year partnership between City Hall, the Premier League, London’s professional football clubs and the Metropolitan Police, supporting youngsters through a social inclusion programme which gives participants access to free football sessions and activities, as well as workshops that support and educate.
Over the course of the year, the mentoring programme at Selhurst Park will see 30 young Londoners each receive 12 weeks of dedicated mentoring support from the Palace for Life Foundation. Those involved are referred to the programme by schools, youth offending teams or pupil referral units and receive a range of support to get them back into education and employment with local companies.
They receive one-to-one support from mentors. Many of the mentors come from similar backgrounds, so can better understand the experiences faced and can work with the young people to help build their confidence and direction.
The Mayor is supporting the work of the Palace for Life Foundation via a £1.2million grant to Croydon Council from his Young Londoners’ Fund.
The £70million fund was created by the Mayor in 2018 to support education, sport and cultural activities for young people to help tackle knife crime and youth violence. More than 110,000 young Londoners are already benefiting.
During this week’s half-term, parents and youngsters can find hundreds of activities on offer for young people across the capital, using City Hall’s online map, which contains details on free events, workshops and clubs.
Mentoring is just one example of the work being delivered by football clubs through the Premier League Kicks programme. Free football sessions, workshops and other activities currently run at more than 150 locations across London and aim to engage more than 25,000 young people over the next three years.
A further eight football clubs in London, including five Premier League clubs, are offering mentoring to those who are more likely to be involved in serious youth violence. This programme delivery will extend over the next three years as further professional football clubs run this targeted activity.
“When I was teenager, I was lucky to have a youth club nearby which allowed me to take up boxing and keep me out of mischief,” the Mayor said.
“Sport has the potential to inspire and change young people’s lives, and that’s why I want Londoners to have the same opportunities that I did. I’m proud to have teamed up with the Premier League to help provide these activities for young people and to give them the chance to hear the voice of mentors who have been in such similar situations. It’s vital we help young people make the right choices as early as we can, and by joining together and investing in our communities we can help put them on a path away from the dangers of crime.”
Angel O’Dwyer, the community development officer for the Palace for Life Foundation, said: “I know how hard it can be for a young person to turn their life around when things have gone wrong, but with the right support, it can be done. Having been through some tough times myself, I am now proud to be helping others and giving them the confidence and self-belief that they can achieve great things.”
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