Friday 1st December saw hundreds of London school pupils, representing more than one million children from across the capital, come together to share their ‘Mayor for the Day’ ideas as part of the London Children’s Festival, developed by social mobility charity the Mayor’s Fund for London in partnership with BE OPEN, the think-tank founded and run by philanthropist and Mayor’s Fund for London Trustee Elena Baturina.
For several weeks since the beginning of the new school term, schoolchildren from eight London primary and secondary school considered how they would make the world’s greatest city even better for themselves, their fellow pupils, families and communities if they were ‘Mayor for the Day’. Each school created a short film and advertising campaign to promote their recommendations before presenting them at the Festival to an influential panel comprising Deputy Mayor of London, Joanne McCartney, the Children’s Commissioner for England Anne Longfield OBE, teams of Mayor’s Fund for London and BE OPEN.
Speaking at the London Children’s Festival, Joanne McCartney, Deputy Mayor of London, said: “I would like to formally welcome Anne Longfield, Children’s Commissioner for England and to thank BE OPEN foundation and its founder Elena Baturina, for their support. London’s schools outperform those from other parts of the country with some of our most deprived areas providing good education, employment opportunities and housing for their most disadvantaged residents. I’m very proud of that and of all the hard work put in by teachers, students, their families and supporters. And also of the boroughs, community organisations and charities…that help children realise the potential a global city like London has to offer. But there’s much more to be done and we won’t rest until every child in London has the opportunity to make the most of their potential. That’s why activities like the London Children’s Festival are so important.”
Elena Baturina, Mayor’s Fund for London Trustee and Founder of BE OPEN, said: “At BE OPEN we genuinely believe in the transformational potential of younger generations, and ensuring that they feel they have a stake in their city is vital to the future of its success. Today we have been impressed and amazed by the thought and creativity that went into all the children’s ideas, ideas that may transform the way we approach important issues of today, as well as by their hard work and commitment to bringing those ideas to life. We hope that more and more children and young people all over the world will have a say in shaping the future of their cities for the benefit of us all.”
Children’s Commissioner for England Anne Longfield, OBE, added: “It’s so important that children have a voice and are heard by the policy and law makers in the UK who make decisions about them. Launching a Charter that has been shaped by young people, in line with the Mayor’s key themes, ensures they feel like they are not only being given a voice, but that voice is heard. The ‘Mayor for the Day’ theme also fits perfectly with the Takeover Challenge, which took place on 24th November. This puts young people into decision-making positions and encourages organisations and businesses to hear what they have to say. Today has proven that our youngest members of society have valid ideas and can contribute an enormous amount to how policy-makers and businesses shape future strategies.”
The London Children’s Charter will also feed into the Mayor’s Fund for London City Pitch leadership programme also supported by BE OPEN.