By Marcus Leach

The Mayor of London Boris Johnson today (Thursday) unveiled a new programme to boost the job prospects of thousands of young Londoners and steer them away from involvement in crime.

In plans outlined by the Mayor today, thousands of youngsters will have the opportunity to join uniformed groups like the Guides, Scouts and Cadets. The £1.3 million programme, being run by the Safer London Foundation, will help young people develop vital skills and instil discipline and responsibility in young people, particularly those who are or at risk of being excluded from education, training or employment.

Thirty-eight new uniformed groups will be opened over three years, two-thirds of which will be in boroughs with areas of high deprivation. Already 100 new adult volunteers and 1,000 youngsters have been recruited. By the end of 2014 this will increase to 1,000 volunteers, which will enable 8,000 young people currently on the waiting lists across the capital to join uniformed groups.

The initiative is part of Team London, the Mayor’s strategy to harness volunteers to deliver key projects to improve the quality of life and opportunities of Londoners.

Speaking at the Merton Sea Cadets Centre for the launch, the Mayor of London Boris Johnson said this is a great way for youngsters to learn new skills.

"Uniformed groups are a fantastic way for youngsters to get involved in a myriad of activities, which will help equip them with the skills they need to succeed in life," Boris Johnson said.

"It’s a modern tragedy that so many of our young people are struggling to get a foothold in the jobs market and are drifting into crime. By instilling self reliance, discipline and a sense of competition, young people can aspire to a better future."

The Mayor has awarded the Safer London Foundation £1.3 million funding for the YOU Matter programme. The foundation will work in partnership with the You London uniformed groups- Volunteer Police Cadets, St John’s Ambulance, Army Cadets, Air Cadets, Sea Cadets, Guides, Scouts, Boys’ Brigade and Girls’ Brigade.

A recent YouGov survey for the Scouts found that many youngsters are lacking in practical skills- around half couldn’t cook a meal, four out of five couldn’t tie a knot and only 11 per cent could read a map.

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