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Gap year students choose Tower Hamlets over Tanzaniah

PUBLISHED: 12:00 30 September 2010

FORGET Africa and Asia. Gap year students are now being urged to volunteer their services in the 'urban jungle' of Tower Hamlets.

FORGET Africa and Asia. Gap year students are now being urged to volunteer their services in the ‘urban jungle’ of Tower Hamlets.

Mayor Boris Johnson this week mocked wealthy students who do a “gap yah in Tanzani-ah,” instead calling on young people to roll up their sleeves in east London.

The comments came as he helped launch City Year London, a scheme which sees gap year students mucking-in at schools in deprived areas of London.

St Anne’s Primary School in Underwood Road, Whitechapel, is one of the first schools to sign up to the scheme and over the next ten months will have a team of volunteers on campus.

The group of nine students, aged from 18 to 25 and dressed in their distinctive red jackets, will be working as tutors and running school and community projects.

In return they’ll receive training and a £1,000 grant.

Mayor Johnson said at the City Hall launch: “I hope that across London and across Britain young people will look at all of you and be impressed by your example. I hope they are going to do something original and different and think: ‘I’m not going to do a gap yah in Tanzani-ah, I’m going to help young people in my city of London, where there is poverty and deprivation — that I, as a young person here in this city, can help to address.’”

The scheme has so far been so popular, would-be volunteers have been turned away from St Anne’s. There are now plans to launch a similar scheme at another Tower Hamlets primary school in January.

Five primary schools in deprived areas of Hackney and Islington have also been included in the ambitious project.

The multi-million pound scheme was funded by a host of City firms and the Mayor’s charitable fund.

City Year was originally founded in Boston, America, in 1998. It now operates in 20 locations across the US and in Johannesburg, South Africa.

Originally founded in Boston in 1998, City Year now operates in 20 locations in the US and in Johannesburg, South Africa. Since its inception, over 12,500 young people have completed more that 20 million hours of service, working with 1.2 million children.

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