Frankly, most of us would rather forget our teen years: the spray-on jeans, the greasy fringes, the humiliating bids for romantic love and the undying allegiance to Panic! At the Disco. But that doesn’t mean we should forget about people that are actual teens right now. London’s current crop of young people may have missed out on the golden age of emo, but even so they’ve had a seriously rough ride of it lately. They’ve missed out on months or years of schooling due to the pandemic, the cost of living crisis is biting, and now, the spaces that offer them a refuge are under threat.
New research by charity London Youth has found that a third of this city’s youth clubs are at risk of closure, due to rising costs and local authority funding cuts. And it’s offering you a chance to help. Its new campaign asks Londoners to donate to keep these precious spaces alive, raising cash for over 600 youth clubs and organisations. These local hubs offer sports, arts, mental health, employability and social programmes to young people, keeping them inspired and out of trouble (or off TikTok). They give teenagers trusted youth workers they can confide in, away from the fraught environments of home and school. And they also help guide them into jobs, something that’s extra important given that 21% of all the UK’s unemployed young people live in London.
So if you’ve got warm fuzzy memories of your local youth club (or just of nights in front of the telly wishing you could go to Grange Hill), then it’s your chance to get involved, either as an individual, or by encouraging your company to partner up with London Youth to create mentoring and volunteering opportunities. Doing your bit won’t protect you from teenagers’ lacerating sarcasm, but it will give you the confidence that you’re giving this London’s next generation a leg up, and making sure they get a say in this city’s future.