Progress made with mayor’s mentoring scheme

More than 70,000 young people in London have been provided with a mentor in a £34 million City Hall scheme that has been hailed by Mayor Sadiq Khan.

By Noah Vickers, Local Democracy Reporter

Sadiq Khan
London mayor Sadiq Khan. Photo: Noah Vickers

More than 70,000 young people in London have been provided with a mentor in a £34 million City Hall scheme that has been hailed by Mayor Sadiq Khan.

He said the scheme is “on track” to achieve an end of year target of providing 100,000 young people with mentors.

The programme is aimed at tackling the causes of crime in the city by providing young Londoners with positive opportunities.

According to the mayor’s office, this “includes children and young people who are not in mainstream education, those who have been excluded from school or college, as well as young people impacted by exploitation, domestic violence, living in poverty, and those in the care system”.

They added: “It also involves working with young people who have gone through the criminal justice system and helping them to develop the personal skills and practical training they need to build a more positive future.”

The mentoring is being provided by a total of 150 organisations across the capital.

Mr Khan said the programme was already making a difference “in relation to better mental health, better relationships, doing constructive things – either being in training or a job – so we know it makes a difference in relation to people fulfilling their potential”.

He added: “We passionately believe in the difference prevention and early intervention can make in relation to youth violence.”

The London mayoral election is taking place on May 2, meaning that a new mayor could take over from Mr Khan before the target of reaching 100,000 young Londoners is hit.

Mr Khan, who is standing as Labour’s candidate for an historic third term at City Hall, said he had “absolutely no confidence” in his Tory opponent – Susan Hall – continuing the scheme if she is elected.

Her campaign spokesman declined to comment on this, instead suggesting that the mayor should explain why Labour members on the London Assembly had on Thursday voted down proposals by Ms Hall to invest an additional £200 million in the Met Police.

The funding would have provided all schools with knife detection arches and would also have given all frontline officers access to knife detection wands, with the aim of making searches faster, more effective and less intrusive. Ms Hall has promised to put such measures in place if she is elected in May, saying she “will get a grip of crime and make our streets safer”.

The proposals were put forward by Ms Hall as an amendment to Mr Khan’s budget, though they only secured support from the Assembly’s Conservative group. Labour, the Greens and the Liberal Democrats all voted against.

Labour’s Krupesh Hirani argued the amendment had not been funded properly, calling it “Truss-onomics” – a phrase also used by the mayor. The amendment’s costs had however been approved as theoretically workable by City Hall’s interim chief finance officer before being debated by the Assembly. In advance of the debate, a source close to Mr Khan had claimed the plan would require “a huge increase in council tax” or “devastating cuts” to “key public services”.

The mayor also said he had “no confidence” that Ms Hall would carry on his policy of providing universal free lunches for primary school children in the capital – though she in fact made it one of her first pledges, promising to continue the policy into the next school year more than six months earlier than Mr Khan did.

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