London will for the first time have a new deputy mayor dedicated to working with faith communities and improving social integration.
Leading human rights lawyer Matthew Ryder was today appointed to the role by Sadiq Khan in a further realisation of his election pledge to be a mayor for all Londoners.
The 48-year-old, who will take up his role next month, has been tasked with helping Londoners of “every gender, ethnicity, faith, culture, age, sexuality and socio-economic background don’t just live side by side, but live truly interconnected lives”.
A former chair of the Black Cultural Archive, he will also lead on encouraging volunteering and mentoring in the capital.
The Queen’s Counsel, whose clients have included the family of Stephen Lawrence, will take up the newly-created role of Deputy Mayor for Social Integration, Social Mobility and Community Engagement next month.
Khan said: “I am thrilled that Matthew has agreed to join my team at City Hall and to help me find ways of improving the social integration of our city. We are extremely lucky to have so many fantastic communities in London, but there is no point in having that diversity if they do not mix with each other and helping that happen is a huge challenge.
“We have to strengthen the bonds between Londoners of every background and I believe that Matthew is the very best person for this important role.”
Although London is one of the most diverse cities in the world a recent report by the Social Integration Commission found that individually Londoners currently spent relatively little time with people from different walks of life.
Ryder, who has also set his sights on helping the elderly feel integrated, said: “I am hugely excited about taking on this role. There is no more important task in a global city like ours than building successful communities where Londoners of every background feel connected with each other. As London becomes ever more diverse ensuring those connections are made is one of our greatest challenges.”
In a early sign of his intentions, the mayor included leaders of various faith communities in his inauguration ceremony and made the annual Yom HaShoah event his first official engagement in the job.