40 Years of Inspiration
Every young person should have the chance to succeed. This compelling belief has been the driving force behind the UK's largest youth charity since it was founded by HRH Prince Charles in 1976.
As it celebrates its 40th anniversary, Susanne Kelliher talks to Paul Brown, The Prince's Trust's Director of Communications, about its work.
Imagine going home each night, knowing that you could have changed the life of even one young person. That's what life is like for Paul Brown.
"The young people we work with overcome seemingly insurmountable odds to achieve their own personal success. I'm inspired by their stories. It's fantastic to be reminded of why we do what we do every working day."
Paul has been with The Trust for 14 years. So what makes it different from other youth charities?
"There's a real optimism in this organisation that's difficult to quantify. Maybe it comes from the inspirational support we get from our Ambassadors – everyone from film star Tom Hardy to astronaut, Major Tim Peake.
"Or it could be down to the passion and commitment of our 1,000 staff and 6,000 volunteers.
"Whatever it is, it permeates our centres and programmes and inspires young people to achieve amazing things together."
Undoubtedly, one of the defining differences comes from having The Prince as the charity's President.
"This charity would not exist without his determination to get the initial projects off the ground. Today he remains keenly involved in guiding our strategy, motivating our partners and supporters and, above all, inspiring our young people."
Since it was founded, The Prince's Trust has supported more than 825,000 young people, aged 13 to 30, and continues to support 100 more each day.
This year, it will reach over 58,000 young people, including more than 14,500 across central England. John O'Reilly is The Trust's Director in this region:
"We work with young people furthest away from the job market. They may have struggled with homelessness, mental illness, drug or alcohol abuse, experienced difficulty at school, or been in trouble with the law.
"We don't focus on their history – we look at what they can do in their future, helping them build the confidence, self-esteem and motivation to get their lives on track."
It's a measure of The Trust's success that three in four of the young people they support move into work, education or training.
Chloe Ensor is one of those who have benefited from The Trust's help. When Chloe fell pregnant, she was victimised and bullied at school. After her son was born, she stopped attending school altogether.
Chloe was referred to The Trust's xl programme, which provides an informal learning environment that helps young people develop the
confidence and skills they need to finish their education, go to college or find a job.
As well as forming strong friendships, Chloe also attained a qualification in Personal Development and Employability.
Chloe went back to school and is now determined to do well for herself and her son.
"The xl programme changed me as a person," she says. "I am stronger because of it and I know that I can be a good mum at the same time as making a career for myself – and a better future for us both."
The Trust has also supported more than 80,000 young people to start their own business. People like Paul Griffin, who approached The Trust to help turn his childhood passion for music into a career. He took part in the Enterprise programme, which enables young entrepreneurs to learn about setting up a business and offers guidance from an experienced mentor.
Paul is now running his own entertainment service, Paul Ace Music, here in Derby. "With The Trust's support, I have begun to build the future I'd always hoped for," he says. Paul is also a Young Ambassador for The Trust, working to inspire other young people to follow their dreams.
The Trust's non-judgemental approach and uncompromising focus on individual potential are signature characteristics of its work, as John explains:
"For many of the young people we support, being listened to by someone who sees their potential rather than their problems will be a first.
"That can be really powerful in helping them reframe their own expectations of themselves and what they can achieve."
So what does The Trust's Director of Communications see as the vision for The Trust's future?
"Our main role is to get young people into work and this will continue to be our focus. But we're also aware that young people need the right skills to get a decent job, so the STEM subjects [science, technology, engineering and maths] are increasingly important as well as soft skills like confidence and teamwork.
"With a new website and an investment in our social media channels, we want to reach young people in new ways and that's really exciting.”
Writer: Susanne Kelliher
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