Tackling Youth Violence in London

October 17, 2018
Rachel Barber, Head of Community Development, EMEA

Murder rates among young people in London have dramatically increased in recent years. In 2017, 46 people aged 25 or under were stabbed to death in the capital – almost double the rate in the previous year. Lesser knife offences also rose to nearly 13,000 in 2017, up 23 percent from the prior year. Such statistics are shocking, saddening, and deeply devastating for the young people involved, their families, and the communities affected.

The backdrop for this epidemic of violence among young people is their high rate of unemployment. According to the Trust for London's most recent data, 9.4% of 16 – 24 year olds in London are currently jobless. This rate declines to 3.6% for those aged 25 – 64. Research shows that pervasive underemployment and unemployment among young people creates an environment of low aspirations and dramatically increases their risk of becoming involved in gang activity and violent crime.

The Citi Foundation's Global Youth Survey found that only 54% of young people in London believe they have the opportunity to succeed in their chosen profession. This statistic is even more sobering when viewed in comparison to other cities included in the research, which reveals that optimism among youth in London ranked near the very bottom, coming in 41st out of 45 cities included in the survey. This lack of aspiration, of hope, and choice is what we must urgently work to address.

All of us who live and work in London have a responsibility to make our city worthy of its reputation as a global centre of excellence, which means taking all practical steps to ensure that all of its residents have an equal opportunity to succeed. The recently released Interim Report from the Youth Violence Commission highlights the critical role the private sector should be playing in tackling youth violence. The London Community Foundation's The Violence Virus confirms that among the primary causes of youth violence are poor educational opportunities combined with a lack of jobs.

Through our Pathways to Progress initiative, the Citi Foundation has invested £850,000 in 127 community based organisations in the last 3 years, reaching over 12,000 young people, and helping connect many disadvantaged young Londoners to the world of work. But we know we need to do more.

As a result of the Citi Foundation's partnership with the Evening Standard's Estates Challenge and Food for London initiatives, we've seen first-hand the powerful and unique role that frontline community-based organisations play in engaging communities at the most local levels. They're well placed to recognise triggers and shifts within communities, react at first signs to provide preventative rehabilitation and long-term care and support.

That's why today we're announcing a new investment of over £500,000 in the Evening Standard's Save London Lives Fund supported by The London Community Foundation. These funds will;

  1. Provide small grants to enable community groups and small charities to deliver vital youth employment and entrepreneurship opportunities,
  2. Build the capacity of these organisations so they can sustain their services into the future,
  3. Report back on the impact of the programme, highlighting which interventions are most successful.

Citi volunteers will also be committing their time and skills working directly with young people by hosting work place visits and skill days, and engaging with these small community organisations to help them build capacity.

When left unaddressed, persistent youth unemployment has consequences that reverberate across cities. Through this new investment and our ongoing efforts, we're committed to working with others trying to address this complex issue to ensure a more vibrant future for our young people and our city.

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