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Mayor visits Selhurst Park to support young Londoners

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, visited Selhurst Park this week to meet young people benefitting from positive mentoring activities run by Palace for Life Foundation during the school holidays with investment from the Mayor’s Young Londoners Fund.

The mentoring is part of the Premier League Kicks programme that supports young people to reach their full potential and to prevent them getting caught up in violent crime. The programme also gives access to free football sessions and activities, as well as educational workshops.

Sadiq was joined on the visit by former Palace forward Mark Bright: “The Palace for Life Foundation is doing fantastic work to help young south Londoners get back on the right path and keep them away from crime, it is something I am passionate about supporting and I want to see it continue and grow.”

Across the next year, the mentoring programme will see 30 young Londoners each receive 12 weeks of dedicated mentoring support from the Foundation. The young people are referred by schools, youth offending teams or pupil referral units and receive a range of support to get them back into education or employment.

The young people receive one-to-one support from mentors from the local area on a weekly basis in a classroom, club, home or informal setting depending on their specific needs. Many of the mentors have themselves come from similar backgrounds so can relate to the experiences and challenges faced and can work in partnership 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 £1.2m grant to Croydon Council from round two of his Young Londoners’ Fund. The £45m fund was created by Sadiq 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 benefitting. Last week, the Mayor announced additional funding of £25m to build on the Young Londoners Fund, bringing the total funding for projects and programmes that provide positive opportunities for young people and help steer them away from crime to £70m.

One of those who has already benefitted is 15-year-old Rebecca, who was referred by her school for her disruptive behaviour. Rebecca has since rediscovered her love of football and is now planning to go to college.

She said: “My mentor took in an interest in me and asked where I saw myself going in the future, she helped me reflect on my life and be open about what I was going through and what was causing me to do the things I was doing. It helped me get back into football and I’ve signed for a team. I’m also a senior prefect at school and I haven’t had any detentions.”

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said: “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. 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, 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.”

Bill Bush, Executive Director, Premier League, said: “Through the Premier League Kicks programme we are providing mentoring that enables young people to be the best versions of themselves. Partnering with City Hall and the Metropolitan Police, we are working closely with young Londoners to engage those most in need of support, giving them opportunities to enjoy themselves, whilst also providing positive pathways to suit their individual needs. This provision extends nationally through our partnership with BBC Children in Need, in supporting more than 40 professional football clubs to deliver this targeted work, all with the aim of building stronger, safer and more inclusive communities.”

Find out more about our Targeted Intervention work.

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