Mayoral candidate calls for creation of a London Youth Corps

Rory Stewart, the independent candidate for May's mayoral election, wants to build on the National Citizen Service to help local charities and environmental causes

Rory Stewart (Photograph: Getty Images/Peter Summers/Stringer)
Rory Stewart (Photograph: Getty Images/Peter Summers/Stringer)

A London Youth Corps citizenship and volunteering programme could be made universal for all teenagers in the capital in plans drawn up by the independent mayoral candidate Rory Stewart.

The former Conservative MP, who is running in May’s mayoral election, said that under his mayorship the London Youth Corps would aim initially to double the number of teenagers taking part in National Citizen Service programmes.

In addition, Stewart would expand the NCS scheme to include two additional elements focusing on community engagement and the environment as well as the currently offered two-week NCS residential programme.

This would provide four million hours of volunteering a year, Stewart said, and each teenager would be expected to plant 12 trees, equivalent to a million trees over a four-year term as mayor.

Stewart said the tree-planting initiative would be carried out alongside London’s parks services, including the Royal Parks charity.

The volunteering scheme would also allow teenagers to work with smaller community projects and charities, as well as larger organisations such as the Scouts and the National Trust.

By the end of his second term, if elected, Stewart would work with central government to make the London Youth Corps compulsory.

Stewart said: “The current mayor could have done far more to back and develop youth clubs and services across the city, but he hasn’t. Our young people need worthwhile and engaging activities outside school, and they need to be shown broader opportunities. We must provide these opportunities for young people urgently: with action, not words.

“The programme will bring young people together from across London, from all backgrounds and neighbourhoods, and give them the confidence to see themselves – and each other – as full citizens of London. In this way we will rebuild our spirit of civic service and pride in this great city.”

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