Well Ladies and Gentlemen, welcome to the Ant and Dec Tuesday afternoon Princes Trust Takeaway. Having sat through the event and discovered a great deal more about what happens when it is televised, I am now slightly anxious in case I become a commercial break.
I am enormously grateful to Ant and Dec, they have been so loyal and devoted over all these years. I don’t know how they do it, but we are very lucky to have them, is all I can say.
Ladies and Gentlemen, we are here today in the wake, of course, of a dreadful pandemic which has affected education, employment, families and childhoods. We still do not know the extent of the disruption in the long term, but we do know that many are still experiencing isolation and loneliness, and that more young people across the world are growing up fearful of the future.
Listening to young people, I know the journey from childhood to adulthood, from school to work, can be an anxious and turbulent time, even for those in the most fortunate of circumstances. But the pitfalls of this journey have been made infinitely worse for so many today – separated from their school friends, cut off from confidence-building challenges and denied the social experiences that we all took for granted.
I recently met a group of young people from my Trust who had just started their first job after a spell of unemployment. They spoke movingly of their struggles to find work – one young man had sent off more than 400 job applications without success, which left him feeling completely worthless. Another talked about the stigma of mental illness, and so many had experienced acute anxiety. The good news is that the Trust has given these young people new hope, and a new start.
These are just some, Ladies and Gentlemen, of the more than one million young people my Trust has helped across over twenty countries. Now, more than ever before, we need to believe in our young people so they can start believing in themselves. We need to equip them with the skills and the tools to succeed – something my Trust has been doing for over forty-six years.
I have no doubt that you will share my admiration for today’s remarkable winners and will be as impressed as I am by their stories of success. Even after all these years, I never fail to be moved by the way each and every one of them has overcome the most daunting obstacles. I can not tell you how proud it makes me, of all of them.
Ladies and Gentlemen, thank you all for being here and for your support. I am immensely grateful to those whose generosity has made the work of my Trust possible, but most of all I want to thank the young people for all they have achieved and for being such wonderfully positive role models for their peers today – and for generations to come. Thank you, Ladies and Gentlemen.