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London charity celebrates five years of supporting young people

Central London charity Young Westminster Foundation (YWF) has this week marked five years of supporting 70,000 young people in Westminster.. Focussing on the neighbourhoods with the highest poverty rates in London, the charity has raised and distributed more than £2.1 million since being established.

This comes as YWF has been selected as the Lord Mayor of Westminster’s Charity of the Year. Cllr Hamza Taouzzale, 23 – elected in May as the City’s youngest ever Lord Mayor and the first from a Muslim and global majority background – has been a YWF trustee since age 18, and will become YWF’s first Patron.

With one in three young people in Westminster growing up in poverty, YWF supports over 140 members – ranging from large youth clubs to local grassroots charities, to specialist groups supporting young carers, young people facing homelessness and young people with disabilities – and is backed by over 220 organisations including local businesses, Westminster City Council, local schools, and the NHS. The foundation’s different approach to supporting local youth services is being modelled nationwide, with partner foundations set up in Manchester, Kent and Dorset.

Examples of the charity’s work include the Digital Futures programme, which distributed over 1,800 laptops to young people and families in the borough who faced digital exclusion during the pandemic. Another example is the Mastering My Future employability programme, through which more than 600 young people have benefitted from work experience, mentoring and creative careers workshops run by employers such as Channel 4 and TikTok.

YWF’s anniversary was celebrated on Thursday 20th October at the National Gallery, where patrons, supporters and beneficiaries gathered to commemorate and bring new impetus to the charity’s efforts.

Helen Mann, CEO of the YWF, said:

“We exist to help keep local youth services open, relevant and effective at a time when London has lost over 100 youth clubs and more than 700 youth workers in recent years. Youth workers offer life-changing support for young people and our wider communities, especially during tough times as we are seeing now.

“All young people deserve to grow up happy, safe and healthy. For that to happen, it needs organisations like YWF working to support and grow youth services.”

The Lord Mayor of Westminster, Cllr Hamza Taouzzale, added:

“Over the past five years, I’ve had the honour of seeing first-hand and from the very beginning the vital work that the Young Westminster Foundation carries out. During that time we’ve lived through multiple Covid-19 lockdowns – the effects of which are still only coming to light – and now we are going through a cost-of-living crisis. Young people across Westminster will have benefitted in some way from the important work they do, which is why I have made them charity for my mayoralty. So, Happy 5th Birthday Young Westminster Foundation, and keep up the good work.”