Rory launches Mayor's Youth Corps plan

Rory launches Mayor's Youth Corps plan

Every teenager in London set to benefit from ​“London Youth Corps” if Rory Stewart is elected Mayor

  • Community projects set to benefit from over four million hours of volunteering a year

  • Each participant will plant 12 trees - meaning over one million trees will be planted during the first term

Rory Stewart, Independent candidate for Mayor of London, today set out plans for the London Youth Corps, a new citizenship programme for all teenagers in London - building on the success of the National Citizen Service (NCS).

After completing their GCSEs, young people have the opportunity to spend two weeks away from home via the NCS, learning life-skills, having transformative experiences, and making lasting friendships. Currently only one in six take up the offer. If he is elected Mayor, Rory Stewart will use all the powers and influence of City Hall to get behind the scheme - working with schools and clubs, and promoting it on the transport network - with an ambition to more than double the number of young people taking part. By the end of his second term, he will seek to make it universal for all teenagers in London.

On top of that, Mayor Rory will bolster the current offering with two additional elements focused on the environment and on community engagement in London. Through the “London Youth Corps”, participants will have the opportunity to get involved in voluntary action projects - from planting trees, to supporting the homeless or other vulnerable groups, to visiting the elderly.

Each participant will dedicate two shifts a month to the programme for a year. With an annual cohort of around 30,000 students by the end of Rory’s first term, London will benefit from over four million hours of volunteering for environmental and community projects every year. Through the environmental action element of the scheme, each student will be required to plant a dozen trees - totalling over a million trees during Rory’s first term.

While voluntary to begin with, Rory will work with central government to make NCS and the London Youth Corps compulsory by the end of his second term - reflecting his belief that civic service is a vital component of a young person’s education.

The London Youth Corps will be based on a three part model:

  • Away from home​: Through NCS, every student will go on a two-week residential camp. Students will spend the first week of camp taking part in outdoor activities like rock-climbing, canoeing, trekking and team-based activities like raft-building. The second week will be spent learning life-skills such as public speaking, leadership and group working. Students will come from across London and will be from a range of backgrounds.

  • Volunteering: ​After returning students will participate in group projects in their communities focused on environmental and social action.

    • Environmental action​: Working with London’s parks services - the Royal Parks, Borough authorities, the City of London’s extensive network of green spaces, and National Park City Rangers - students will dedicate half of their volunteering time to environmental projects - planting trees and improving our green spaces - including their own gardens. Every year, each student will be required to plant a dozen trees - together the Corps will plant a million trees across the capital.

    • Social action​: Students will participate in group projects in their communities through partnerships with charities, sports clubs, local community groups, and larger organisations - such as the National Trust, the Scouts, or the London Ambulance Service. The types of projects will be determined by the need of the local area but could vary from working with the elderly, veterans, those with disabilities, the homeless, or refugees, giving citizens’ advice, or developing other projects that help people to get to know their neighbours.

Launching the policy, Rory Stewart Independent candidate for Mayor said:

“Teenagers face a peer-pressure cooker of social media, an increasingly competitive job market, and - in some areas - the threat of gangs and drugs.

“The current Mayor could have done far more to back and develop youth clubs and services across the city, but he hasn’t. Our young people need worthwhile and engaging activities outside school, and they need to be shown broader opportunities. We must provide these opportunities for young people urgently - with action not words.

“As Mayor I will make the London Youth Corps a rite of passage for all young Londoners. I will support 16 and 17 year olds to spend time away from home - developing their confidence, and learning skills in the outdoors - before returning and giving back to society through environmental projects, and volunteering their support for the elderly and the vulnerable.

“The programme will bring young people together from across London, from all backgrounds and neighbourhoods, and give them the confidence to see themselves - and each other - as full citizens of London. In this way we will rebuild our spirit of civic service and pride in this great city.

“The Mayoral Election on 7th May is a turning point. A vote for me is a vote for more action - more action on safety, on housing, and on providing the proper conditions for our young people to flourish.”

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