Today’s announcement, that if elected next week Ken Livingstone will appoint Oona King as his young people’s champion, is welcome news for London. This focus on ensuring they achieve their potential can only benefit all of London’s citizens.
Our capital is a young city, with many more residents in this age group than other UK regions. Last year Oona’s own pitch for Mayor identified how the fortunes of London rest on their fate; on getting them into education, into jobs, and able to thrive not just survive on our streets.
The reality for our young residents here is very different. Ken spent last Saturday afternoon at a youth crime event in Paddington organized by by young people from every corner of London. Brought together by a concern that only 17% of their peers feel safe in the city, these campaigners have been working together to ask what would improve their prospects in London – from getting their EMA back and changing their relationship with the police to the need to know there will be jobs and careers for them.
With just days to go until the election, Ken’s decision to appoint Oona shows he’s listening to these concerns and determined to use the talent and energy we have in our city to help address these issues. As anyone who has ever met her knows, Oona will bring expertise and passion to working with young people. Her track record of campaigning in this field- from apprenticeships, to youth re-offending and early intervention – means she could bring insight and ideas to help drive action for and with them in City Hall. And we know action is badly needed in a capital where one in four young Londoners find themselves unemployed and knife crime rates amongst young people have shot up on Boris Johnson’s watch.
Indeed, whilst Boris’s own track record on action for young people in London has been found wanting, Ken is providing a powerful offer for them. Whether pledging to restore EMA, supporting Safe Havens, cutting fares or his commitment to tackling gangs, including girl gangs, this latest addition shows he’s serious about giving the next generation a key stake in the future of London.