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Sadiq Khan: Kicks gives youth chance to inspire

21 Feb 2020
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Mayor of London meets young people at Crystal Palace benefiting from PL Kicks mentoring, which is supported by City Hall and the Met Police

When he was growing up, Mayor of London Sadiq Khan experienced the inspirational impact of sport at a local youth club.

And this week he met a new generation of young people who are benefiting from a similarly positive influence when he visited Crystal Palace to find out more about mentoring activities as part of the Premier League Kicks social inclusion programme.

The event celebrated the three-year partnership between the Premier League, City Hall and Met Police, which enhances the delivery of PL Kicks in London.

"When I was a teenager, I was lucky to have a youth club nearby which allowed me to take up boxing and keep me out of mischief," Khan said. "Sport has the potential to inspire and change young people's lives and that's why I want Londoners to have the same opportunities that I did.

"PL Kicks shows us that your current situation is not your final destination"

La'jay Taylor, PL Kicks participant

"Crystal Palace is a really good example of the work that Premier League Kicks is doing.

"I have met some young people who are inspiring. They were saying that they weren't the best in the classroom, they were up to no good, they had challenges with their families and the programme has turned them around. They are optimistic now and they have a bright future ahead of them."

Under the new partnership, the League and the Mayor's Office for Policing and Crime (MOPAC) are investing additional funding in Kicks to provide constructive activities for young Londoners.

Partnership in action

One element of the partnership is mentoring, which involves young people referred by schools, youth offending teams or pupil referral units who receive a range of support to get them back into education and employment with local companies.

The mentoring programme at Crystal Palace will involve 30 young Londoners each receiving 12 weeks of dedicated mentoring support from the Palace for Life Foundation in the next year.

"The difficulties that young people face in south London are things like financial issues, knife and gun crime and drug related problems, and I think having a programme like this helps people get away from that," said Kicks participant La'jay Taylor.

"It gives us a chance. It shows us that it's not just all doom and gloom and that your current situation is not your final destination."

Rebecca is one participant who has already felt the benefit of the scheme.

The 15-year-old was referred by her school for her disruptive behaviour but has since rediscovered her love of football and is now planning to go to college.

Positive influence

"My mentor took an interest in me and asked where I saw myself going in the future," she said. "She helped me reflect on my life and be open about what I was going through and what was causing me to do the things I was doing.

"It helped me get back into football and I've signed for a team. I'm also a senior prefect at school and I haven't had any detentions."

Fourteen years after PL Kicks was launched, 90 Premier League, EFL and National League clubs are delivering the programme and aiming to inspire children and young people in some of the most high-need areas to realise their potential and improve their wellbeing.

Mentoring is the latest phase of the programme to prevent young people from getting caught up in crime, said Premier League Executive Director Bill Bush, with this targeted work extended nationally through a partnership with BBC Children in Need.

"Partnering with City Hall and the Metropolitan Police, we are working closely with young Londoners to engage those most in need of support, giving them opportunities to enjoy themselves, whilst also providing positive pathways to suit their individual needs," he said.

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