Somali youngsters must participate in local politics if they are break the stigma of gangs, drugs and Islamic extremism which dogs the community, according to community leaders.
London's Somali community - estimated at anywhere between 40,000 and 100,000 - has among the worst indicators for health, poverty and educational achievement in the country.
There have also been a number of high-profile, gang-related attacks attributed to Somali youths and elements of the community are believed to have fallen prey to religious extremists.
But the January 23 event, organised by the London Somali Youth Forum, was convened to show the negatives are one aspect of a much broader and encouraging Somali experience in the UK.
Speakers - including Somali PHD students, professionals and community leaders - urged local authorities to do more to engage the community.
Mohamed Youssuf, a 27-year-old accountant from White City and the Youth Ambassador for Hammersmith and Fulham, said: "Somalis make up a massive population in London, but are really unrepresented across all jobs and public positions.
"There are few local councillors, no school governors and very little resources put aside to help our youngsters.
"The first step is to open the door to them, the next is for our youngsters to walk through that door."