We are based at City Hall in London, one of the greatest cities in the world.
But not everyone is able to take advantage of what this city has to offer. That is not right.
The Mayor’s Fund for London was launched against the backdrop of the global financial crisis of 2008.
The extraordinary set of events which saw UK and US banking sectors coming close to collapse, impacted deeply on young people in our capital. Public funding to youth services nose-dived and at the height of the recession, 1 in 4 young Londoners were unemployed – the highest level in nearly 20 years.
Our charity was established to create meaningful interventions and ultimately improve the life chances of children and young people in the city.
Taking a decision to start small, we focused our attention in Shoreditch, then an area of high deprivation.
By gathering intelligence, building school and community relationships and bringing together business partners for investment, we provided targeted support and focused on areas that we believed to be critical as young people moved into adulthood: wellbeing, skills and employment.
It became evident early on that a one-size-fits-all approach to dealing with child poverty in London was not the right answer.
We learnt that to help schools achieve more success we had to look beyond the school gates. We found community groups and organisations who could enrich the school experience, increasing effectiveness and coverage; and we identified youth employment needs by joining up services to improve links with the labour market across London, thus offering more choice and greater access.
Our signature approach was born, and in the first three years, we supported over 10,000 children and young people.
Since those first steps in Shoreditch, we estimate that we have invested over £20m in local communities and directly supported over 200,000 children and young people across all 33 London boroughs.
So far, we have worked with over 2,200 schools, 2,250 employers, 175 community organisations and nearly 160 charities, social enterprises and local authorities.
However, our mission is far from complete. Indeed, it has never been more vital. Young Londoners are navigating an ever more uncertain world – be that politically, economically or socially.
Since 2011, £39m has been removed from local youth services, which translates into a 44% cut in local authority funding and 81 youth centres closing across the capital. School budgets have been increasingly squeezed, with rising student numbers not matched by income. Whilst nearly one in ten young adults in London are unemployed – higher than the England average.
Young Londoners have reason to feel worried about their future. Inequality is among the highest in the country and research by the Social Mobility Commission shows that young people think they have little chance of a better life than their parents – particularly for those from challenged backgrounds.
As we embark on our next chapter, the Mayor’s Fund for London intends to be an even stronger champion for young Londoners.