Lewisham Young Mayor Project
MISSION & HISTORY.
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 16th Young Mayor in October 2019.
The programme sits distinctly in the Mayor’s Office in Lewisham instead of 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.
Before the Young Mayor Project.
Before the Young Mayors Project there was the 'Lewisham Young People's Participation Project' called YP3 which operated from the late 1990s and early 2000s in the heart of Lewisham communities. Young people on various estates and youth clubs across the borough, from Deptford and New Cross to Sydenham, took part in activities, discussions and debates about what they thought was important.
YP3 was run by Lewisham Youth Service, where annual youth conferences brought people together resulting in the creation of the Young Mayor Project, by young people, youthworkers, officers, and politicians. Check out some of the archived images below.
The Young Mayors Project is run by the London Borough of Lewisham by the Young Mayors Team for more information get in touch!