Sidley pledges £500,000 to build youth centre in North London

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By Aishah Hussain on


US firm to offer career guidance and work experience opportunities

LandAid House, Islington — credit: YMCA London City and North

US law firm Sidley Austin is to put £500,000 over the next five years towards building and running a new youth hub in North London, it announced today.

The firm has joined forces with the London City and North division of youth charity YMCA to provide youngsters with career and wellbeing opportunities.

The cash injection will help YMCA build a youth hub at LandAid House, Islington, which aims to reach at least 1,000 young people in its first five years of operation.

YMCA estimated in its 2022 report that the spend per head from youth services for five to 17-year-olds in England has fallen from £158 in 2010/11 to just £37 in 2020-21.

The duo will work together to transform two former retail units at LandAid House into a multi-functional space for young people providing services including counselling, mental and physical health activities, and a sexual health clinic. The building will also be installed with a recording studio, performance space and general hangout area.

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“Our office is in the heart of the City of London, so it is a key priority for us to support those within the surrounding area,” said Sidley Austin managing partner, Thomas Thesing. “The pandemic had a devastating impact on many, and as we emerge from it, it is evident that London’s younger generation needs greater support and guidance to help them thrive and grow in their local communities.”

Thesing continued:

“We believe that our five-year partnership with the YMCA is an excellent way to shine a spotlight on the social issues young people face today. This project will also allow our team to engage with those utilising the youth hub to provide career guidance and support, as well as exciting work experience opportunities at Sidley’s office.”

Firm volunteers will also devote their time to a range of actiivies in and around the hub, including participation in youth programmes, community events, and mentorship for young people interested in developing professional skills and experience.

YMCA London City and North chairman, Robert Thompson, added: “Thousands of young lives will be changed thanks to this partnership with Sidley, with the Youth Hub at LandAid House providing vital support to young Londoners over the next five years, and many, many more in the years beyond. We believe each young person should have the chance to fulfil their potential, and this collaboration with will help make that possible.”

YMCA was founded in 1844 by (fun fact) Boris Johnson’s great-great-grandfather, Sir George Williams, a worker in the drapery trade in London, who, concerned about the welfare of his fellow workers, started a group for young working men which grew to become a global alliance of youth groups. There are more than 80 member YMCAs in England & Wales which collectively help over 570,000 young people a year.

Last month Sidley launched a bursary that will award £3,500 per academic year to five law students from low socio-economic backgrounds starting from September 2022. As well as financial support, the firm hopes to give them “an intimate look at life within an international law firm” through work experience opportunities and the chance to be fast-tracked to its summer vacation scheme.

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