Prime Minister, Mr. Clegg, Mr. Miliband, ladies and gentlemen, I have to confess that today is the fulfilment of an ambition I have had for the past 38 years ever since I spoke in the House of Lords back in 1975 of the need for some kind of community service scheme in this country which could help to challenge, inspire and motivate young people in the service of others and, in so doing, help to build their self-confidence and self-esteem and develop their individual potential. In those days this was considered as a hopelessly, old-fashioned idea but I suppose I have got used to that during the last 38 years!
Throughout that time, through meeting so many young people helped by my Prince's Trust and, more recently, through the Youth United network I helped to start several years ago, I have seen the remarkable work that countless youth organizations undertake in order to help transform lives. In company with so many others, I have seen the devastation caused to the lives of those families whose children have been so brutally murdered through street violence. With us today are Barry and Margaret Mizen, whose son, Jimmy, was so cruelly torn from them in 2008. The Mizens are convinced as I have been for so long that part of the solution is in providing many more structured, constructive, challenging and adventurous opportunities for young people. However, as I scarcely need tell you, many of the youth organizations which so ably provide these activities such as the Scouts and Guides, the Boys and Girls Brigades and cadet units of all kinds are hampered in their growth by a lack of adult volunteers.
In recognition of this national need, I am enormously grateful that it has proved possible to gather so many people, here at Buckingham Palace, so that, together, we can launch this long-term campaign, called "Step up to Serve." I am especially grateful that so many leaders have already made pledges to support the campaign and I am particularly pleased that not only are we joined by fifty young people who have already made such a difference to their communities, but also that so many people whether political or faith leaders, those in education, business, the Trades Unions and the voluntary sector share this vision and are here today. I am profoundly grateful to you all.
I think we all realize only too well that this campaign is a huge, but exciting challenge and that it may look as though we have bitten off more than we can chew! However, the important thing to recognize is that there is a lot of work to do over a long period in order to achieve in excess of fifty per cent of young people (aged ten to twenty) engaged in practical action in the service of others by 2020. It cannot all happen at once. But today we are launching what is a giant, and unique, collaborative effort. I pledge, therefore, that I will be the Patron of this national campaign and cannot thank you all enough for the pledges you have made that will help to transform countless lives and communities up and down our country.