Martina Milburn has been unbelievably kind in her welcoming words, but all I can tell you is that none of what has been done by my Trust in the last 36 years would have been possible anyway without marvellous people like her - and with all the rest of the senior management team over the years - and so many of all of you who are the wonderful staff that make it all happen.
I can never get over, when coming to my Trust’s headquarters, just how many people we employ here – though this is just part of it, of course, because there are so many other people in the regions. So I just wanted to take this opportunity above all else to pay a very special tribute to the immense amount of hard work and effort you all put into making a difference to the young people’s lives all over the country because I know just how many little details you have to be absolutely sure about with the help of all the expertise and knowledge that cumulatively you have acquired over so many years. Some of you have been here quite a long time and that collective wisdom is of enormous importance.
It makes me feel so incredibly old: I remember back in 1981, as you know we had a whole series of riots in this country, some in Brixton, some in Toxteth. I remember at the time thinking what on earth could be done, in a small way, with my Trust? So we started looking at one or two ways that perhaps a difference could be made.
One of the things that came out of this was starting the Trust’s Enterprise Programme, which in those days was called Youth Business Initiative. This was an attempt to try and help people into self-employment – to set up their own businesses. At that time too there was a lot of youth unemployment. Now we have the same problem again, as Martina mentioned. Sometimes one in five young people are finding it impossible to find a job.
So one of the things that I thought for so long and I was saying earlier, part of my “cunning plan” for 36 years, has really been to invest in the future: in the lives, the abilities, the talents and the potential of so many young people. Now we have a growing number of remarkable Young Ambassadors: people whose lives have been completely turned around by the work of the dedicated Trust facilitators on the ground. So people whose lives were destroyed in one way or another, by being in prison or on drugs and in every kind of conceivable complication, suddenly they find that by being given self-esteem and self-confidence, by discovering their own talents and potential, they discover they can do all kinds of things.
So, it seemed to me how can we best put to use that army of Young Ambassadors? So the idea came about that we should have Job Ambassadors. We have the first two here who have been brave enough to put their names down, Kirt Tabberer and Shabz McKenzie, and I am enormously grateful to them for being the first ones to try and lead this. Today we’re launching this new initiative whereby we would start, I hope, by recruiting one hundred Prince’s Trust Job Ambassadors the first year, another hundred the next year and another hundred the year after. That’s three hundred. The idea being that we’d thereby reach 300,000 young people around the country in different areas. The Job Ambassadors will know where to go to find those people who are hardest to reach and also therefore to help connect them to all the possibilities that exist. So often, people have no idea what’s actually available out there, so we hope to be able to connect them to businesses and other companies or people needing skills that they can’t find. The key is: how do you match all these things from one to the other? I am very much hoping that this new initiative could make a difference, to some extent, in some areas in the country.
In the last 36 years of my Trust’s existence we’ve managed to make a difference to something like 650,000 young people. This year we’ve helped some 50,000. We’ve so far helped I think nearly 80,000 business start-ups in the last 30 years. So there are a lot of people out there who know that they owe a lot to the Trust. Now is the time to help put their relationship with the Trust into action. So I’m enormously grateful, not only to the Job Ambassadors for being prepared to do this but also, as I say, to my Prince’s Trust staff for making it happen. I look forward to seeing the difference that these Job Ambassadors can make on the ground to so many young people’s lives. I have every confidence in this army of Young Ambassadors.