London bids to build on 2012 legacy as a friendly city

12 May 2015

Better transport, beautiful public spaces and inspiring culture all combine to help London boost its reputation as a friendly, welcoming city, according to a new report published today. 'Friendly London', published by City Hall, sets out the work being done by the Mayor's team to maintain the momentum sparked by the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games. During that historic summer, every effort - from Team London Ambassadors providing a warm welcome to tourists, to increased accessibility on public transport, to the transformation of public spaces - went into making the capital people-friendly. The report acknowledges the importance of friendliness by individuals to each other - as exemplified during the Games and by activities such as volunteering, which involves more than 36 percent of Londoners contributing to their communities every month - but its main focus is on what cities can do structurally to become 'friendly' places to live and work. Taking its lead from the World Health Organisation's work on the factors that make a city friendly for older people, 'Friendly London' considers them in the context of the wider population - what can be done to ensure a city is a great place to live, work and enjoy life, irrespective of age or circumstance. It covers a range of subjects that will affect an individual both inside and outside the home. This includes how they travel and take part in culture and leisure; volunteering; employment; and Londoners' experiences of using health services. The Mayor is implementing a range of initiatives to improve the experience of living and working in the capital, to make it more 'friendly', including increasing the number of step-free stations on the Underground and making all Crossrail stations step-free; the start of all night services on the Tube this autumn; funding to improve and bring new life to high streets and town centres exceeding £129 million has already helped 56 high streets across London and attracted £56 million of match funding from public and private sector partners. Working with boroughs and other partners, the Mayor's high street initiatives have brought events and other cultural activity to local communities across the capital, particularly in outer London. The Mayor of London Boris Johnson said: 'Almost three years after packing away the bunting and flags, we continue to enjoy the impact of a friendlier city. We have a legacy of massive improvements to London's transport infrastructure and accessibility and improved approaches to designing buildings, homes and public spaces to make them inclusive. From employers making workplaces more accessible, to neighbours popping next door to check on an older person living alone, to citizens doing their bit through volunteering, London's credentials as a friendly city continue to build.' Charles Leadbeater, known for his work on innovation in cities and author of 'The London Recipe: How Systems And Empathy Make The City', comments: 'Cities that are friendly, hospitable and welcoming, do better on almost every count. Friendliness is not just about people being nice to one another. It's more difficult to be friendly when the trains are late, expensive and overcrowded, or when council bureaucracy is unyielding and bewildering. By making it easy for people to mingle together a friendly city generates innovation and creativity as people freely mix their ideas and insights to create new recipes, for food, culture, entertainment, technology.' Deputy Mayor for London Victoria Borwick, who commissioned the report, said: 'London is one of the most exciting cities to live in the world and home to some of the friendliest and most welcoming people to be found anywhere. This report is a timely reminder of what Londoners are doing to make our great city friendly and what is being done at an official level to make it even friendlier.' 'Friendly London - A Great Place to Live. Work and Visit' is available to download from www.london.gov.uk/friendlycity