As I travel around the United Kingdom and beyond, I am very often struck by how the young people whom I meet, often through my Prince's Trust, really want to be a member of a group and connected with a community - in short, they want to belong.
For those who struggle to find this sense of belonging and meaning, life can appear lonely and frightening.
It is these young people who are most at risk of losing their selfbelief, perhaps even turning to drugs and gangs in search of an alternative sense of belonging and, as often as not, some kind of framework for their lives.
Indeed, all the threads that hold together a traditional community - such as a common identity, role models, a sense of safety - have been given by young people as reasons for joining a gang.
Sadly, I have met many young people through my Prince's Trust who have grown up feeling as if they don't belong anywhere. They may have been thrown out of their home or excluded from school. On the streets they find people to take them in, guide them and give them a purpose - even if it is entirely the wrong purpose.
Prince Since I set up my Prince's Trust 34 years ago, it has helped more than 600,000 disadvantaged young people discover skills, talents and a positive role in their communities.
Today, at our Celebrate Success Awards, we are recognizing those young people who have come through the toughest experiences, such as drug addiction and gang crime, and have turned their lives around. For example, Warren grew up on a dangerous estate with only gangsters as role models. At the age of 13 he was shot at for being in the "wrong postcode".
However, through my Trust, he was supported to change his life, showing other young people on his estate that there can be a life outside gangs. He is now a finalist for today's Capgemini Young Achiever award.
There are others with equally compelling stories. Candace, now 20, spent more time as a teenager sleeping on friends' sofas than in her own home. She was soon involved in drugs and in trouble with the Police. However, following a personal development scheme with my Trust, Candace has a place at college and a new direction and purpose.
Young people have a great deal of energy and passion - sometimes even natural aggression. Without the guidance to channel all this into positive activities, it is all too easy for their lives to take a wrong turn.
Some young people are lucky enough to find an identity through organizations like the Scouts, the Girl Guides, St. John Ambulance or the various Cadet organizations.
However, there are many who never make it into these groups. I was told last year that some 86,000 young people remain on waiting lists for these groups, chiefly because of the dire shortage of adult volunteer leaders, while many more never even learn of the opportunities in the first place. Their individual passions and strengths remain undiscovered by the community around them. Unfortunately, there are many young people in this country who are more likely to join a gang than the Scouts.
This is why I launched the 'Youth United' coalition last year, bringing together youth organizations, the Emergency Services, the Police and the Armed Forces to break down barriers in the community, reach more young people and - importantly - recruit more adult volunteers.
In some areas, I believe it is not just more youth clubs that we need, but youth workers; not just football pitches, but football coaches. With more adult volunteers - more adult role models in the community - we can help turn young people away from false support systems such as gangs, drugs and alcohol addictions. We can offer them real support instead, from people who really care about them and their future - for many this will be the first time anyone has taken a real interest in them.
Just as young people need this support, so do the charities that help them. My Prince's Trust is dependent on its 7,000 volunteers and on donations from many thousands of people to help carry out its vital work with disadvantaged young people. The community will then, in turn, reap the benefits of this support.
Many of the young people recognized in today's awards have not only turned their own lives around, they are helping other young people like themselves.
Karen, another of today's finalists, started on a downward spiral of drugs aged eleven, eventually resulting in a heroin addiction. Having overcome this, she has written a research paper on substance abuse and is helping other young people avoid a similar fate.
So often it is the young people who have lived through the toughest experiences who have most to offer back to society. They step up to become young leaders - and my Prince's Trust does its best to support those who have turned their lives around to go out and to inspire others.
This is not an easy step to take. That is why it is more important than ever to celebrate those young people who do take the hard option - and to enable others to follow in their footsteps.
For more information go to the website www.princes-trust.org.uk