support for young people during the summer holidays

Questions to the Mayor of London – answered on 29th July 2019.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Jennette Arnold Jennette Arnold Labour

How are you ensuring London’s children receive the support they need during summer holidays?

Photo of Sadiq Khan Sadiq Khan Mayor of London

The summer holidays are a time when children and young people are especially vulnerable and there is a huge amount of pressure on families. Government cuts have made providing local services almost impossible. That is why this summer [2019], as well as all the other projects we are supporting to help keep young Londoners away from crime, my Young Londoners Fund will be hell‑bent to deliver free activities to over 8,300 young people. To give you some examples, SkyWay Charity is providing free multisport sessions for over 400 children in Hackney. Reaching Higher will be offering 200 young people in Croydon a chance to get involved in drama, the creative arts and, importantly, provide hot meals every day.

My Summer Sports Activity Fund has invested in 43 projects that will offer a huge range of sporting activities to 3,400 young people, all in areas that have high rates of serious youth violence. My Made in London partnership with Apple, the first of its kind, will also offer free coding, producing and filmmaking workshops for 4,000 teenagers over the summer. My Stepping Stones programme will be providing summer school for over 400 children to help them prepare for the move from primary to secondary school.

These opportunities and hundreds more will be listed on my Our London Map and promoted throughout my summer Activity Communications campaign. Several other City Hall programmes will also be reaching out to young people over the summer. This includes our specialist London gang exit programme and our Culture Seeds programme, which is funding 15 different community‑led creative activities across London for young Londoners.

The London borough of Culture in Waltham Forest will also offer free events including carnival workshops for young people and their families across Chingford, Leyton and Leytonstone and on 4 August [2019] thousands of young people will attend the Waltham Forest Mela.

As Mayor I am doing all I can to invest in these kinds of services and activities for young Londoners.  This has provided new opportunities to young Londoners who are at risk of getting involved in gangs and violent crime. However, to be honest, I cannot undo the damage of years of Government austerity alone. We urgently need the Government to help.

Photo of Jennette Arnold Jennette Arnold Labour

Can I ask you to send in writing the programme of activities that is going to be undertaken by the Violence Reduction Unit? We can share that with all Members and they can disseminate it.

Can I start by commending the work of Inspector Alan Davies and the MPS officers and partners who carry out work under the umbrella of Operation Zero? As you know, that is the MPS response to the goal that I know we both share and the majority of well‑meaning Londoners share, to have zero cutting ‑ that is any form of female of genital mutilation (FGM) ‑ in our city. We are all committed to doing everything that we can to stop that.

Can you update me on when you recently had any conversations with the appropriate Government officers about this? Also, we know from the evidence that the long summer holiday is the time when these young vulnerable women - who, can I just say, are born in London and are British, the majority - are then taken out of this country and taken elsewhere to be mutilated. Have you had recent conversations about the dangers posed?

Photo of Sadiq Khan Sadiq Khan Mayor of London

Chair, you have bravely been talking about this for years now. It is worth saying out in the open what you are referring to, which is Londoners are being taken to countries around the world, sometimes to ‘countries of origin’ to have FGM done to them. What is happening this summer [2019] ‑ and the Home Office deserve commendations from us for doing this ‑ the Home Office is making sure, with the police, there are staff available at the major airports that are going to some of the countries that we know, from evidence, this has been taking place, to try to spot a young Londoner, often girls, who may be being taken to these countries to have FGM performed upon them, to stop that happening, to give advice where there is a concern and to use the law at its best. The law has been changed, as you know, in relation to both criminal remedies and civil remedies as well. We are working closely with the Home Office in relation to that. MOPAC is on the stakeholder group that does lots of work around this, sharing best practice.

The third part of this is education. We have to make sure that mums in particular, who may themselves have been on the receiving end of FGM, do not think it is acceptable for their children to also have this done to them. Some of the work we are doing, which does not get much attention, is in relation to the training programmes in the communities that it takes place in. You know about this from your work in this in the past. The Harmful Practices Programme, just to reassure you, has delivered 46 sessions to 976 workers and these workers will cascade this out to the communities. We have to be vigilant on this and I am pleased you have raised this at this Mayor’s Question Time, particularly as it is the last one before the summer holidays.

Photo of Jennette Arnold Jennette Arnold Labour

Thank you very much for all that you do and for everybody involved. Our goal is zero cutting in our city. Thank you.