London Youth charity highlights the plight of the capital’s young job seekers with a London Takeover of Ambitious Applications


Today will see the unveiling of a new street art installation in the heart of Shoreditch, to highlight the issues facing London’s next generation of employees. Commissioned by London Youth as part of a wider awareness campaign, the mural, painted by Peter Barber, Adam Clement, and Luke Eglington in collaboration with Global Street Art, is an open letter to London, on behalf of its young people who will struggle to find employment. The activation will also include the shopfront takeover across all KFH estate agent branches in London, as well as major construction hoarding sites.

The installations are part of a bigger campaign Ambitious Applications that has seen London Youth ‘hacking’ the job market – turning every out-of-reach job posting in London into a lifeline connecting the city’s disadvantaged youth with the people and businesses with the power to help them. The campaign has resulted in direct response letters being sent to jobs ads at major London employers such as The F.A., Boeing, Dorchester Group and Bloom and Wild. The campaign draws a connecting line between the underfunding and risk of closure of youth clubs in London – spaces London Youth exists to support – and the inaccessibility of employment opportunities for young talent. alerting them to the potential closure of youth clubs.

The campaign highlights young Londoners as being the next generation of leaders, creators and thinkers, with the ambition to match. However, the story behind it has a more serious message, as outlined in the open letter. The city is the home of opportunity, and its youth clubs are vital spaces where young people can develop the life-changing skills needed to compete for work. Without funding, over a third are set to close, leaving young Londoners invisible to employers.

The Ambitious Application campaign is a fundraising first. It has created a unique way of targeting those who are in a position to help vital resources such as youth clubs, raising awareness of the issues young people face in the market. All through the voice and experience of a charity that has been advocating for London’s youth for over a century.

This comes in the immediate aftermath of Jeremy Hunt’s ‘Back-to-Work’ Budget, which consisted of a raft of announcements geared towards helping make it easier, or more financially rewarding, for people to find full-time employment. But while parents and those approaching retirement received a valuable windfall, nothing was announced that would materially help young people – the very demographic that will drive the future economy – to find and land their dream job.

Previous announcements like the National Youth Guarantee and Youth Investment Fund, the next phase of which was announced today with no mention of London, risk ‘levelling-down’ the capital which houses the top ten UK boroughs with the highest levels of child poverty. Seven out of the top twenty poorest boroughs in the UK are in London.

21% of all unemployed young people live in London. This is five times the national jobless rate of 4.3% for all ages. There has been a 55% rise in youth unemployment in London since the pandemic (16–24-year-olds).

A shocking 37.4% of young black Londoners are unemployed and are twice as likely to be unemployed as their white counterparts (17.5%) alongside 20.6% of Indian, Pakistani and Bangladeshi young people.

CEO of London Youth, Rosemary Watt-Wyness , said: “We feel this campaign achieves two things, on the one hand it directly targets corporates and asks them to help in a way we would never have thought possible. And on the other we have managed to get a public call out to London, helping us raise awareness of the problem. We know that failure to invest early enough in addressing these gaps reaps costly consequences in the longer term. Youth clubs are the place young people CHOOSE to go, thus presenting a huge opportunity to reach them with support, opportunities, and consistent and trusted adult relationships which London Youth knows can change lives.”

London Youth has been supporting the youth sector for over 135 years, carrying out critical work with and through its membership of 600 youth organisations spread across every borough. These spaces provide young people with somewhere to go, something to do, and someone to trust.

With a specific focus on employability programmes, London Youth have been able to introduce young people to mentors, provide access to workshops, help them discover new job opportunities and provide free events where they can meet people who have navigated the job market. It is this kind of exposure that is critical to breaking the unemployment cycle that many of these young people face.