Ladies and gentlemen, the terrible trouble, if I may say so, after 32 years of The Prince’s Trust is I find I have too many things to say and don’t know where to begin.
First of all I’m enormously grateful to all of those people who played an important part in this afternoon’s event and in particular to Jenni Falconer and Ben Shephard for doing such a wonderful job on that side of the stage, and if I may say so, I’ve a lot to learn as far as watching breakfast television is concerned.
I can see I’ll have to get up a bit earlier from now on! Also, I’m enormously grateful to all the Ambassadors of The Trust and, after all these years, thrilled and incredibly proud that we have such a big list of Ambassadors, many of whom have turned up this afternoon.
Kevin Spacey has been a wonderfully loyal Ambassador, and I’m very glad to see he’s clearly been putting to use what he learnt at drama school all those years ago. I noticed the technique on the footwork, quite remarkable…
As I say, we are lucky to have people like them play such an important part because there’s only a limit to what I can do, and I consider it comes better from all the Ambassadors than it does from me - we rely enormously on all their help and involvement.
As you can imagine with an organization like The Prince’s Trust it really has got quite big, but nothing could be done without all those wonderful staff at The Prince’s Trust.
Another thing which worries me slightly is that we could fill very nearly the cinema with the staff from The Prince’s Trust, and we did fill one theatre a couple of years ago with all of them together and there was about 800.
All I can tell you is that they do the most incredible job up and down the length of this country, and we could not do the work we do (the results of which you’ve seen this afternoon), without their incredible dedication and loyalty. I’m hugely grateful to them, and of course to Martina Milburn, the Chief Executive whose energy is astonishing, and the fact that she has to put up with me all the time writing boring memos to her suggesting one thing or another. She really is a huge asset to my Trust and I can only salute her on this occasion.
Of course ladies and gentlemen, Sir Fredrick Goodwin is here, and I don’t know what I’d do without such a high-powered Chairman.
He’s so high-powered that he’s always somewhere else and I’m afraid I’ve got on to the telephone to get hold of him only to find to my horror that it was actually 3 o’clock in the morning wherever he was so I haven’t tried that too often!
The fact that he’s prepared to give up some of his time amongst all his other activities is remarkable and he has made a huge difference to this country’s economy, the name of the United Kingdom and indeed Scotland throughout the world, but that’s another story.
He really has played an incredibly significant part in the work of The Trust, and his generosity and that of the Royal Bank of Scotland is again quite remarkable.
I must tell you of the way in which so many of his staff from the Royal Bank volunteer. We now have more than 3000 of the Royal Bank of Scotland volunteering for The Trust, and that really is a terrific contribution.
I’m going through all the ‘thank yous’ now otherwise I’ll forget. As you can also imagine perhaps, we rely hugely on volunteers. When you think that now we have something in the region of 7000 people volunteering for The Trust.
You can imagine the amount that can be achieved with that sort of generosity, so I just wanted to take this opportunity to say to all those volunteers out there without whom we could not do the work we’re doing in helping to turn people’s lives around in such a satisfactory way. We couldn't do without that essential volunteering and mentoring element. It’s the mentoring that matters enormously.
It’s the volunteers who are crucial and of course all those wonderfully generous donors without whom we simply could not make this work. We have to increasingly go to donors within the private sector, to philanthropists, to generous individuals and others in order to raise the £50million or more each year to make this operation happen. So you can imagine again what a debt we owe to all of them.
As I was saying, this question of volunteering is absolutely crucial because what we’re dealing with in The Prince’s Trust more than anything else is this question of low self-esteem. There are a lot of people out there who, for one reason or another, suffer from low self-esteem and low self-confidence.
All sorts of complications have taken place in their lives, and you’ve heard it today, people who end up on drugs, want to commit suicide or have had enough. But the wonderful thing is that if you can somehow make an intervention into those lives and just remind people that actually somebody does care and wants to take an interest in you and help to build up your self-esteem, that it can make an astonishing difference.
And all I can tell you is that it makes an enormous difference to me to receive letters all the time from people who say that if it hadn’t been for The Prince’s Trust they would have committed suicide, or they would have gone on taking drugs or whatever.
You can imagine, if it was just one person who wrote to me like that it would make the whole thing worthwhile, but there are a lot of them. And I tell you something else, ladies and gentlemen, I want to continue even further because what I’m really trying to do is to build up a larger and larger army of people whose lives have been turned around in this way.
I particularly want to build up an army of ex-offenders for instance, because when you think that last year alone, 8,500 young people we have worked with - out of the 40,000 altogether - had been or still are young offenders.
You might also like to know that there are currently 15 “one to one” mentors who have themselves been young offenders, which is something I’ve been trying to encourage, because people who have been through all these difficulties actually turn out to be the best people to help others.
These ex-offender mentors have been fully trained by my Trust and are now working with current offenders during their time in prison, and after their release. All this is as a direct consequence of a seminar I held at Clarence House in 2006 when I asked the Home Secretary and his Ministers, and the criminal justice system people, to come and hear from these ex-offenders how The Trust had helped them turn their lives around so that, in turn, we might be able to help them, learn their lessons and repeat them elsewhere. You might like to know that by the end of May this year, this number of mentors will increase to 30 and this “one to one” project is still in the pilot stage.
It is inevitably small-scale at the moment, but over three years my Trust will have trained up 150 mentors and worked with 150 young people. So as I say, the great secret is to build up an army of such people whose lives have been turned around in this way.
This problem of self-esteem, I hope you forgive me coming back to it again, when you’ve seen these clips about people’s lives and what they’ve done to transform them, when you think that the cost of excluding young people in this country is in the region of £10million a day due to youth unemployment and £1billion a year due to youth crime, it makes you think perhaps are we missing a little bit of a trick somewhere along the line.
I personally think we are because about 25 years ago I suggested that it would be an idea to think of introducing a national community service scheme which could help to draw in people who would otherwise go on suffering from low self-esteem and become more and more anti-social, alienated, excluded or whatever.
You can see the difficulties there are on the streets – street crime, gang crime of one kind or another – it seems to me that so often this is a result of people raising a cry for help. But what we have found through The Trust is that the Team Programme can be enormously valuable in helping to, as it were, recreate the sense of unity, security and confidence that many young people failed to find in their family life, their school life, or indeed in the wider community and perhaps are seeking to recreate themselves in groups and gangs.
So we hope through the Team Programme we can help more than anything else to create a sense of belonging and self-worth. It seems to me that with the national community service scheme it would actually encompass a much wider number of people who could be brought together at that right moment in their lives, if only for three months, whereby they could help in all sorts of different ways, whether it’s environmental projects, helping the elderly or handicapped, children, one thing or another or the emergency services.
This sort of team approach, I guarantee you, makes an enormous difference. I keep trying to encourage this sort of possibility because as I say, we see so many otherwise wasted lives. I do know just how many incredibly talented people there are out there, but that talent hasn’t been drawn out. It’s still under-utilised and hidden away.
All I can say is that the job of my Trust, as I see it, is to help draw out all that potential that’s lurking there, all that talent and set it to good purposes. So if I may say so, ladies and gentlemen, many of you here today in the audience play a crucial role in helping us to carry out this kind of task, and I’m enormously grateful to you for helping us with this very worthwhile project.
And finally, can I just salute all those young people and others who have won awards today, and all those who won awards for helping them, and just to encourage them and say that as you get older, I’m going to need you even more. So beware!