Matthew Ryder sits at table and speaks with students
Deputy Mayor Matthew Ryder and Team London Young Ambassadors from St Saviour's Church of England Primary School.

Deputy Mayor visits young volunteers from St Saviour's CE Primary

27 January 2017

Matthew Ryder, Deputy Mayor for Social Integration, Social Mobility and Community Engagement, visited St Saviour's Church of England Primary School. The school was one of the first to join Team London Young Ambassadors when the programme it began in 2013. Since then, St Saviour’s young volunteers have raised over £7,000 and donated over 2,000 items of food and clothing to local charities.

Matthew Ryder with a class from St Saviour’s CE Primary School
Team London Young Ambassadors is the Mayor’s programme to help young people to volunteer and take action on issues they care about. The most popular topics the volunteers choose to focus on are food poverty, homelessness, bullying, connecting generations and the environment. The visit also coincided with the programme reaching 2,000 schools across London. 

The young volunteers showed Matthew the ‘refugee welcome packs’ they are creating for the Southwark Day Centre for Asylum Seekers. The family packs include toiletries, baby items and cultural food items donated by Unilever who fund the programme. The children’s packs include colouring pencils, books and a blanket.

The packs all contain a welcome letter in the recipients’ language and a prayer card specific to their religion. They will be given to recently arrived refugees and asylum seekers in London.

Last year, the Young Ambassadors pitched to Unilever for a brightFuture grant of £1,000 to cover the costs of the packs. The volunteers also hosted a school ‘own clothes’ day. This allowed them to collect donations of clothing and to raise awareness of refugees and asylum seekers. The clothing will also to be donated to the day centre.

Matthew Ryder speaking with staff and service users from Southwark Day Centre For Asylum Seekers

During the visit, Matthew met Omar from Southwark Day Centre for Asylum Seekers. Omar is a refugee from Syria who is one of the hundreds of asylum seeks and refugees benefiting from the hard work of the volunteers. Omar spoke of his journey from Syria to the UK, which included a year working for food in Greece.

In 2015, the young volunteers created ‘street survival kits’ for homeless people who use Brixton Soup Kitchen. The kits included a hat, scarf, gloves, socks, toiletries, water bottle, help cards, joke cards and prayer cards. In October 2016 the volunteers were presented with a Team London Award for exemplary contribution to volunteering. 

Matthew Ryder with Sara Bredemear and Laura Brown.

Matthew also met with Sara Bredemear who is a parent and governor at St Saviour’s. She discussed the impact the programme is having on her child and the other young volunteers. She was thrilled to see all the children so confident and engaged with the visit and not scared to ask questions and have conversations with adults they have never met before.

The work young volunteers do every day to improve the lives of their fellow Londoners, is inspiring. Not only is volunteering good for building leadership and communications skills, it’s a great way to break down barriers and bring people from different backgrounds and parts of London together. I was delighted to join Team London Young Ambassadors at St Saviour’s to see first-hand the good work they are doing to help make refugees who have arrived in the capital feel welcome here. It was especially moving that, in stark contrast to those who unfairly demonise migrants and refugees, these London school children have chosen to prepare care packages for them and to welcome those in need. It's an example to us all. We now have 2,000 schools signed up to the TLYA programme with more than 405,000 young Londoners making a difference in the capital – well done to every one of the pupils involved.”​​​​​​ Matthew Ryder, Deputy Mayor for Social Integration, Social Mobility and Community Engagement. 

If you are inspired by the young volunteers at St Saviour's, then take a look at roles working with migrants and refugees on the Team London website.