Emmanuel Olaniyan has become Lewisham’s 10th young mayor after a landslide victory at Catford’s Civic Suite yesterday.
The 15-year-old, who attends Forest Hill School for Boys, achieved a record 3,687 votes, over 40% of the 9,400 counted.
Reacting to the news he said: “I am very blessed to gain this role and would like to thank everyone that voted for me.”
Adding: “I’m not here to sell people dreams; I am here to get people closer to them. Whatever Young people require I am going to try and make sure their voices are heard.”
Emmanuel will hold office for one year and be in charge of a £30,000 budget to support initiatives and programmes aimed to help Lewisham’s young people.
Titanya Murdock 16, of Sedgehill School, will support Emanuel after she gained 1,874 votes.
She said: “Hard work pays off what can I say. Out of 22 people I came second, that is an amazing achievement.”
“I will try my best to get young artists on the radio and set up work experience placements.”
As the longest running scheme of its kind, the Young Mayor programme is regarded as a great way of introducing young people to politics and has been copied both nationally and internationally, with delegates from Sortland in Norway in attendance last night.
Mayor of Lewisham Steve Bullock has worked with all ten Young Mayors and said the scheme helps to give the youth of Lewisham a voice.
He said: “The Young Mayors that have come before have set a really high standard as great ambassadors for young people. They give us tremendous feedback on wide range of issues.”
His message to other areas that were planning to follow the scheme was to “trust young people, welcome them in, give them their own spaces and they will repay you over and over again”
Also in attendance was Frankie Sulke, the Executive Director for Children and Young People.
She said: “To have a properly elected mayor that has come in as a result of democracy is an enormously positive message for our young people.”
Alongside the newly elected mayor and deputy, Saffron Worrell and Liam Islam have been chosen to represent Lewisham at the UK Youth Parliament after coming third and fourth, respectively.