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Siobhan Benita

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46 Days to Go - Young People Are an Asset to This City

Posted: 18/03/2012 12:31

Today is Mother's Day and as a mother myself I want to say one thing, "Children and young people in London are a huge asset to this city."

Let me say that again, only this time more loudly, "KIDS AND YOUNG PEOPLE IN LONDON ARE A HUGE ASSEST TO THIS CITY."

In just the past week alone, if you had been interviewed by the articulate Jacob at Reprezent Radio, filmed by the delightful Dennis and his professional crew from EndztoEndz media, taken part in a Lives not Knives workshop with the feisty Eliza or attended the amazing launch of this year's Spirit of London's Awards then you'd be shouting about young people too.

Young people in London are disproportionately hit by many of today's challenges - removal of the EMA and rising student fees, high unemployment and unaffordable transport and housing.

They know that the economic outlook is miserable and that recovery will be slow and painful. Life is much, much more uncertain for them than it was when I was in my late teens. Yet, despite all of these things, there are remarkable young people doing positive things right across the capital, starting businesses, running youth groups, helping themselves and others to build strong and productive futures. I have had the pleasure of meeting many of them on the campaign so far and I can personally vouch for the fact that they are enterprising, resourceful, energetic, and fun.

Public leaders should be highlighting all of these things, correcting the myths. But too often they don't. Too often our politicians and Ministers, journalists and commentators put young people down, associate them with crime and problems and unhelpfully feed a negative stereotype that I just don't believe to be true. One journalist (who I respect for many other reasons so shall remain nameless here) used a very negative image to illustrate an article he was writing on youth in London last week.

Let me stress, the article wasn't about gangs or knife crime it was a general article about youth but the picture he chose showed three hooded black boys leaning against a graffitied wall with one of them pretending to shoot the other two. I'm sure there was no harm meant - harm was done nevertheless.

If any of you do need an image of London's youth, may I suggest you check out this video first.

Let's start painting a picture for our children and young people that will inspire hope and increase confidence.

Just two other points before I close this blog.

First, a HUGE thank you to each and every one of the 330 people who have signed my nomination forms. We've done it! Once this campaign is over I will write more about the inefficient, nonsensical, out of date bureaucracy that is the candidate nomination process. For now, I am just grateful to everyone across London who has helped me to comply - I hope that I will do you all proud as the weeks go on.

Finally, it's been a rather unfortunate week on Planet BorKen with both teams unveiling identical election slogans. No doubt several comms heads will roll. I had to chuckle at this faux pas - millions of pounds and hundreds of staff between them and they still can't produce a single, distinguishing idea. Says it all really.

 

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