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How it Began

The Young Mayor’s Programme began formally with the 2004 Young Mayor Election, which was the culmination of a decade long successful young people’s participation project base in what was Lewisham Youth Service. It was intended to mirror the political structure of the borough particularly given the change to a directly elected adult Mayor of Lewisham, so that there could be a formal and constitutional recognition of the voice of young people and its need for representation in the borough. The initial idea of a Young Mayor had been piloted in Middleborough but had only lasted for one year. In developing the Young Mayors programme in Lewisham, a number of key challenges were being addressed – including increasing the participation of young people in the life of the borough through a formal structure that worked centrally and closely with elected politicians. The Lewisham programme, which was also initially on a pilot basis, recently elected its 19th Young Mayor in February 2024.


The programme sits distinctly in the Mayor’s Office in Lewisham and the Children and Young People’s Directorate, as this is key in providing genuine dialogue between the Executive Decision Maker (Directly Elected Mayor) in the council and the Young Mayor and his/her advisors. The programme is part of the constitution and base budget of the Council.

The programme enables young people, politicians, council officers and partners to work together to develop ideas, while also addressing issues of concern and interest. In doing so, young people’s active and effective participation in democratic processes and local governance is genuinely enhanced. The Young Mayor’s Team continues to play an active role in helping to develop community solidarity and cohesion particularly necessary in an era of austerity and retrenchment. As this period slowly comes to an end it becomes even more important to remind ourselves and young people that other ways of doing things and being in the world are both possible and viable through our active engagement with each other and the world around us.


To this end the Young Mayor and Young Advisors work locally, regionally, nationally and across Europe. For over 10 years the Young Advisors have been initiating and participating in Erasmus+ (European funded) projects with partners and young people from many European countries. Developing friendships, sharing experiences, learning and understanding between young people and their communities in the wider world. 

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