Victoria Park Harriers and Tower Hamlets Athletics Club based in Mile End is a community run project that offers athletics and associated social activities to all, regardless of ability, from the age of 9 upwards. Recently we sat down with members of the club to talk about their thoughts, concerns and demands for London.
They began by highlighting the role that sports play in their own lives, and the opportunities London offers for people that love to participate in sport. This brought the group onto the importance of sport in community life. While there were many sporting groups potentially available not enough was being done to ensure young people, particularly those from disadvantaged backgrounds, had access to them. At the same time London has many parks but they are often left empty, or facilities that are there aren't maintained or utilised effectively. With these resources people could be employed to run group activities, and offer mentoring. Better still the government could provide support for people wanting to start up their own projects in these areas. It was highlighted that the government invest a lot of money subsidising banks and corporations--why not small businesses?
Initiatives supporting communities in need would also provide welcome employment for young people struggling to find work. The group discussed the amount of discrimination in the job market based on where they were from, or problems they had with the criminal justice system. Problems of surviving, let alone enjoying London, do not end once you find a job either, with many jobs being very poorly paid and the cost of living so high. Low pay would not be so much of a problem if rents, transport and taxes weren't so high.
Overall the group came up with:
- Greater funding for community projects
- Cheaper transport, especially for students
- More investment and support for start up businesses
- Rent control or caps.
- Higher minimum wage and other measures to lower the cost of living.