Usher was in London recently for sold-out shows at the O2, but he spent time in between concerts to meet young people and discuss how to beat knife crimes.
Amid escalating statistics of knife crimes in Britain’s capital – every year sees an increase of 8% – Usher hopes to help mentor teens most at risk by bringing his Usher's New Look Foundation to the city.
“We spoke about teenage pregnancy, gang violence, incarceration, isolation – and one very specific thing was knife crime,” the singer told the Standard. "It’s something the kids kept bringing up and obviously it’s a huge issue here.
“The program is about finding the root of the issue and addressing that, and hopefully motivating change. We would love to set up a permanent presence here in London. I really hope London is receptive, as this really does work. I think that us giving youth the responsibility and the chance to have a voice makes a difference.”
While in London, Usher and three mentors from his New Look Foundation provided leadership training to young people at two organizations: the Brunswick Club for Young People and the loveLife Generation. These organizations share in New Look’s vision to help young people strengthen their talents and get engaged in service and civic life. The session helped youth utilize their creative talents to create change in their communities.
“The work we do with the New Look Foundation is never far from my heart. In order to mentor youth as global leaders, we must take them out of their communities and introduce them to diverse leadership experiences on an international level,” said the singer. “I know the New Look mentors will learn just as much from the London youth as they learn from our own.”
“We are thrilled to bring the New Look program model to London,” said Shawn H. Wilson, President of Usher’s New Look Foundation. “We are constantly working to expand our global reach. We have trained youth in the Philippines and Kenya and look forward to seeing a positive impact in the London community.”
“As a philanthropist, I recognize the work Mr. Raymond has established through New Look as an invaluable resource for the young people who have experienced the program,” said Scott Mead, New Look Foundation Board Member. “I feel privileged to assist in expanding its reach to London and I know that it will leave an impact with our youth.”
As a reward for completing the training session, Usher surprised the London teens with tickets to his concert at the 02 Arena as well as a chance to meet him. Additionally, this summer, The Brunswick Club and the loveLife Generation will send their teen members to attend the World Leadership Conference, hosted by New Look in Atlanta, GA. The World Leadership Conference is an annual opportunity for New Look to train youth from around the world to become local and global leaders while interacting with other youth, celebrities, athletes, politicians and corporate executives.
The New Look Foundation empowers, motivates and inspires young people to create change while offering them the tools and resources they need to succeed as leaders. The Foundation has provided over 150,000 hours of leadership training and has worked with more than 8,700 youth around the world.
See photos of Usher’s visit here.