Westminster City Council has launched an ambitious new CityLions initiative that will open up doors to some of the UK’s top institutions for local young people to experience the very best of what the city has to offer. The aim is to build life skills and boost their confidence of participating youngsters in an inspirational environment so they have the chance to develop into the next generation of community, cultural and commercial leaders who will help to shape London’s future.
Westminster is the cultural hub of the UK, home to world-famous theatres and art galleries. It is the centre of government and plays host to many FTSE100 companies leading the way across a huge range of different industries.
That is why Westminster City Council is taking the lead to make sure that young people who live with all of these opportunities on their doorstep are able to access them.
The MyWestminster City Lions programme, which was developed with the Westminster Youth Council, will generate opportunities for residents aged 13 to 16 with Westminster’s greatest institutions.
The programme officially launched with four Westminster youngsters spending the day at ZSL London Zoo, getting a flavour of the work that one of Europe’s most famous zoos undertakes on a daily basis.
They volunteered as trainee zookeepers, the first step upon the ladder to a career in conservation, which could one day take them across the globe saving endangered animals.
Why it is unique
The MyWestminster City Lions programme is unique in local government due to its scope and ambition, and the profile of the opportunities that are being generated for young people.
Westminster has 56 theatres and 15 major art galleries with audiences travelling from all over the world to see famous plays, shows, musicals and great works of art.
Many pieces of world history take pride of place in Westminster’s 24 museums, studied by some of the world’s most eminent historians, scientists and scholars.
And Westminster’s 15 cinemas frequently play host to huge film premieres, for example Tomb Raider just last week and the European premier of Star Wars The Force Awakens where Nelson’s Column was lit up like a lightsabre.
Many films are shot in Westminster, with famous British institutions such as James Bond and Harry Potter filmed on Westminster’s streets and hit TV show The Crown.
Through the two-year programme local young people will be given behind-the-scenes access to such events and work experience, showcasing the unique career opportunities and firing the imagination.
They will be able to shadow film crews, gaining an unparalleled and truly inspirational view of just what it takes to succeed in the creative industry.
Who is taking part
The programme will enable people to broaden their horizons like never before, with a particular focus on those in care or from disadvantaged backgrounds.
ZSL London Zoo, The Ritz, Somerset House, Odelay Films and Lord’s cricket ground, have already signed up to offer career-boosting experiences and opportunities to local teenagers, and many more famous venues are expected to follow as the programme grows over the coming year.
Cllr Nickie Aiken, Leader of Westminster City Council said:
“Westminster is a world famous city, one of the best places on the planet to make your way in the world, packed full of opportunity and variety.
“I want every young person that grows up in Westminster to have access to these opportunities. Through the MyWestminster City Lions programme the council will be building a direct link between our young people and Westminster’s most inspirational institutions. “The council will be building the bridges for our young people and we look forward to seeing them thrive.”
Aziz Saiq, Westminster Youth MP and Youth Council Leader said: MyWestminster City Lions addresses some key issues for young people and helps open some doors that might have otherwise remained shut. I feel particularly passionate about making sure young people are equipped to make the best of themselves and are able to seize the incredible opportunities on their doorstep.
“Having a programme available to us that will inspire us to discover our interests and to help us develop skills through work experience gets a big thumbs up from me!”
Charlotte Coales, ZSL’s Public Engagement Officer: “Here at ZSL London Zoo we’re really excited to come on board #MyWestminster City Lions. It’s a great way to connect the young people that live here with the amazing opportunities we can offer through our world-class Discovery & Learning team.
“We have lots of great programmes to help young people in Westminster gain the experience they need to be successful. Our careers days offer the chance to find out more about careers such as zoo veterinary medicine, conservation or animal welfare. The students will not only meet the professionals involved, but see behind-the scenes and gain hands-on experience to fully understand the roles.”
Westminster City Council is working with cultural institutions, schools, voluntary organisations and Westminster Youth Council to deliver the programme.
Younger participants will take part in backstage tours and Q&As at cultural institutions, showcasing the range of potential careers available. These include event management, operations, grounds maintenance and catering at Lord’s Cricket Ground; shadowing film crews operating in Westminster; visits and taster events at Somerset House as part of its Creative Careers programme.
Participants aged 15-16 will focus on work experience in the sporting, cultural or creative industries. It will also include skills workshops covering communications and confidence building, CV writing and interview skills, as well as helping young people to secure work experience that is relevant to their interests.
Institutions and young people in Westminster can register their interest in participating at www.westminster.gov.uk/citylions.