Work hard, aim high - Mayor backs drive to get young people in care into jobs

24 September 2011

Tim Campbell and David Akinsanya join City Hall event to help young Londoners on road to employment and study

 

With children in care less likely to go to university and more likely to face unemployment as adults than other young people, the Mayor of London is behind a drive to help them prepare for when they leave care as part of the Mayor's Scholars Programme. This weekend, up to 150 young people aged 13-19, who are in care or care leavers, will head to City Hall for Wise Up, a day long event designed to help them prepare for future careers and higher education.

Around 11,000 children and young people are in care in the capital. They are five times less likely to achieve five good GCSEs and six times less likely to go to university, whilst recent figures for London showed that 13 per cent of looked after children were unemployed after year 11, compared with 3 per cent of all young people.

This is a situation the Mayor is seeking to tackle, through events like Wise Up, as well as his Time for Action programme and a European Social Fund co-financed youth project worth £2.7 million, which focused specifically on education, employment and training issues for Looked After Children. This is in addition to a further £23 million invested in skills, employment and training to help a range of vulnerable young Londoners.

The Mayor of London Boris Johnson said 'Young people in care or about to leave care are part of our city's future and it is very important that we nurture their aspirations and ensure they have the maximum possible understanding of their own potential. I hope everyone attending this year's Wise Up will go on to great things, so work hard and aim high - who knows, amongst the many academic and career paths that you choose, there might be a future mayor amongst you.'

In addition to hands-on workshops and taster sessions focusing on careers, higher education and volunteering, the young Londoners attending Wise Up will get to hear the insights and experiences of amongst others, entrepreneur and businessman Tim Campbell and journalist and broadcaster David Akinsanya, who has been through the care system.

David Akinsanya said: 'When I was in care, and until recently, the system really only contained children. No-one thought about our futures after care. Unlike many kids, we didn't have people encouraging us to think about careers nor did we have the contacts of our parents to help us. I am delighted that the Mayor's office is putting on Wise Up for London's looked after teens. It is important to have dreams and ideas for the future and this event will certainly make young people think and those caring for them.'

This is the third Wise Up event organised by the Mayor of London in partnership with Action for Children, The Prince’s Trust and the Fostering Network. Other speakers include Jerome Harvey-Agyei, a participation worker for Waltham Forest Children’s Rights Centre and Wise Up Co-Chair and Ambassador, plus Wise Up Ambassador and Performer Shalyce Lawrence. It will include sessions run by prestigious organisations as; The Princes Trust, Channel 4, MyBnk, The Fostering Network, University of Greenwich and the University of Arts. The event is also open to foster carers and adults who work with young people in care/leaving care and there will be bespoke sessions to look at how to support the young people in their care going forwards.

Raina Sheridan, Deputy Chief Executive of the Fostering Network, said: While many young people who have been in care achieve great success in their lives, they typically do not do as well at school as their peers and it can be much harder for them to find work or training, or go on to further education. This event is a great opportunity for them to be encouraged and inspired, and for their foster carers to recognise what they can do to support and guide the young people in their care so that they can achieve their potential.

Hugh Thornbery, Director of Children’s Services at Action for Children, said: 'Taking your first steps into adulthood and knowing how to make the most of opportunities available to you can seem like a daunting prospect. Wise Up offers essential guidance and support to help young people in care, and care leavers, to build the foundations for a successful and productive future. It’s a uniquely insightful and interactive event where young people can chat, ask questions, have fun, and get advice from experts on how best to fulfil their potential.'

Notes to editors

1. For more details about Wise Up, Mayor's Scholars, Time For Action and other programmes aimed at young people visit the website: www.london.gov.uk/priorities/young-people