In their words: key issues for young people in London

Principle Consulting offers annual work experience placements to several students from Uxbridge College who are part of the English for Speakers of Other Languages programme. Over the last few weeks, the selected students have researched our democratic institutions, practiced giving presentations, learned about how charities campaign and visited Parliament and City Hall. We asked them to write about the issues most important to them. One of their responses is featured below.

About me

My name is Patryk, I’m twenty years old and I’m from Poland. I moved to London in 2014. I’m studying at Uxbridge College. I recently had the chance to go on work experience to Principle Consulting where I spent my time productively. They’ve asked me to write about the biggest political issues in London from my point of view as a teenager. I’ve never thought about this question before so it was difficult for me to find an answer, but I realised that surrounding me, especially at college, people are facing many problems which we don’t see. I chose the three biggest issues which have a big influence on our lives.

Mental health problems:

I think this is the biggest problem I’ve witnessed. A lot of people my age or younger suffer from depression or low self-esteem because of bullying at school or online. They are not receiving enough help from school or their parents, which leads to bigger problems like suicide or self-harm. People touched by mental health problems don’t feel valuable, so they start to think, ‘if I’m not needed to anyone why should I live’? This isn’t the case – everyone has a right to live without being bullied. As a solution, I propose the government should spend more money on mental health care. I know this is not easy, but we are all a part of London society and deserve a good quality of life.

Knife carrying:

My next issue which affects many people my age is knife carrying. Many people in different parts of London carry a knife, which is illegal but still visible. There are many dangers connected with knife carrying, like robbery or murder, which are really serious. In many parts of London those incidents happen quite often. Every few days we hear on the radio or TV that someone lost their life because they were stabbed to death. We could avoid this. I propose to introduce improvements in our police by giving police officers more power, for example, greater penalties if someone is caught carrying a knife. We should also employ more police which I think will reduce knife carrying.

Easy access to drugs alcohol/cigarettes:

The last issue which is also a big problem is easy access to drugs. I know many people aged sixteen who smoke cigarettes or drink alcohol in large amounts. They do this because they want to be the centre of attention, especially attention from other people who are also doing similar things. I think this is sad because instead of spreading good habits, teenagers are doing completely the opposite. I know from my experience that if you are not following the group you are treated as an outsider because others think you are weak or you can’t do it, so they start treating you badly. It’s important that older colleagues spread the message that smoking and drinking is bad to their younger friends who are really susceptible to influence.