Ladies and gentlemen, I must say I am always slightly worried on these occasions that I find myself addressing all the same people that I have addressed for the last five years. All I can say it is a huge pleasure to see quite so many of you here this evening supporting my Trust. It really is incredibly good of you when I know you have got so many other demands on your time.

If I may, I would like to start by thanking E.M.C. in particular for sponsoring this evening's event for what is now the fifth year in a row, which is truly heroic as far as I am concerned. I am told that this year's dinner will take the total raised by these events to more than £2 million, which really is astonishing and a great tribute to all your determination to help young people.

I also want to thank my Trust's Leadership Dinner Committee, led by James Bennett who I suspect will never be the same again; Sophie Raworth who is the most wonderful, loyal Ambassador; and of course our guest speaker Baroness Shields. Tonight's highlight, however, will be hearing from Chantelle, who is one of my Trust's Young Ambassadors and of whom I am enormously proud. 

Many of you, I know, already give a great amount to my Trust in terms of time, ideas and opportunities not to mention your invaluable financial support!  I am - it sounds incredibly inadequate to say - enormously grateful to all of you for everything that you do.  It is only with this support that we can continue to work with some of this nation's most vulnerable young people.  

I wonder ladies and gentlemen, have you noticed how we are suddenly starting to hear people talking about the need to build and to educate character?  This is all most interesting considering that if you mentioned character-building during the past forty years you were instantly labelled as old-fashioned and out of touch! But it was precisely, if I may say so, what prompted me to start my Trust nearly forty years ago, in 1976, and I must say, it makes me enormously proud that since then we have succeeded in supporting over 750,000 young people, many of whose lives and indeed characters have been totally transformed. 

From that point of view I just wanted to illustrate the difference you can make to people through the example of a young person by called Arnold who was unemployed and desperately unhappy. While growing up in Birmingham, gangs operated within his community and in a desperate bid to fit in with his peers, he found himself falling in with the wrong crowd. This happens time and time again, as you can imagine and so often these are the young people who the Trust can pick up and make a difference to. In 2007 Arnold was sent to prison for conspiracy to rob, and served two and half years. His time in prison gave him the chance to reflect on what he wanted for his future. He had always had a passion for drawing and realized he could make his time in prison a little easier by drawing portraits of his fellow prisoners.

Upon his release in 2009, Arnold heard about The Prince’s Trust Enterprise programme and jumped at the chance to take part and learn about business planning. He went on to present his business idea to The Trust and was thrilled when he received a £2,000 loan and a business mentor to help set up Spontaneous Portraits. That is now going from strength to strength and he has expanded from human portraits into pets, horses, wildlife and architecture. So this is just one illustration of the sort of difference you can make.


Every week, I receive profoundly moving letters from young people whom my Trust has helped and so often, they tell me in those letters that they would not even be alive today, were it not for my Trust.  That they would have committed suicide or gone onto drugs... My Trust's Youth Index, published earlier this month, found that it is often a lack of support at home which has a detrimental effect, and that a quarter of the young people in the U.K. don't have anyone to talk to about their problems while growing up; and one in ten have been physically attacked at home during their childhood. Suffering trauma during these formative years can have a devastating effect on a young person’s future, especially if they don’t have anyone to share their burden with.

Some have to take on adult responsibilities when they are themselves still children.  Nathaniel Hawley is now one of our Job Ambassadors, but his story illustrates this very well. When Nathaniel’s father left home his mother suffered a breakdown and was hospitalized. Nathaniel was left alone to manage the household and struggled to remain in full-time education.  Again you see, with nobody to turn to, he became depressed, burdened by the responsibilities of his home life and with no idea how to change his situation.  Thankfully, Nathaniel found The Prince’s Trust Fairbridge programme which ultimately changed his life.  He learnt to accept the support of others as well as gaining new skills and qualifications. With encouragement from my Trust's wonderful staff, he went on to apply to university and has since graduated with a 2:1 in Television Production. Another young person whose life has been turned around. 

For young people who are unemployed, the situation is increasingly dire, with fifty-three per cent of them feeling anxious about everyday situations and a heart-breaking forty-seven per cent feeling depressed, "always" or "often". As we all know, unemployment eats away at the confidence of those it affects, and I urge you not to forget about those young people who we haven’t reached yet, who are out there right now with no hope for the future.  They still need our help and one very important way of doing so is through skills training.  With so many gaps in skills to be filled - particularly for instance in engineering, there is a huge black hole there - the level of youth unemployment could be greatly reduced with some joined-up thinking.   

So ladies and gentlemen, I just want to emphasize that with your support, my Trust can provide more specialized and innovative services to reach the most vulnerable in our society. In particular, my Trust can work in more industries to run what we call 'Get Into' programmes, which introduce young people to jobs in specific sectors of the economy. For instance, construction, cooking, hospitality, farming, forestry, engineering...you name it. All these sectors, they give young people the opportunity to see the have potential and aptitude and frequently they then go on to do modern apprenticeships or indeed to discover more about these areas and end up serving in business or working in these sectors. This is a programme which has had considerable success since I first encouraged this initiative, 'Get Into' has supported more than 18,000 young people, with ninety-eight per cent of young people leaving the programme feeling better equipped and more self-confident, and sixty-seven percent recording a positive outcome; such as being in employment, education and training or voluntary work. 

To tell you more about the importance of these courses, Chantelle will be speaking later about her experience on the Get Into Customer Services programme in partnership with H.S.B.C....

Of course, much of the power of such stories lies in the help offered to individuals and, consequently, to their families.  Yet, particularly in the times in which we live, we should also, I think, consider the enormous potential benefit to our economy of helping to transform young lives.  It is estimated that over the next decade youth unemployment will cost the economy approximately £28 billion in benefits and lost productivity; youth crime is estimated to cost £23 million each week. Clearly, positive interventions that produce tangible results are also vital to our economy.

Ladies and gentlemen, I would like to thank you more than I can possibly say for continuing to invest in our young people because that is what you are doing. The private sector provides essential leadership, funding and, crucially, jobs, to support our disadvantaged young people as they seek to make their way in the world.  Thanks in no small measure to all your generosity and good work, my Trust can help so many more young people to develop their characters and self-confidence and then to build their skills and their potential and of course, their opportunities. In this way we can assist them, not just to survive but to live full and prosperous lives and surely, we owe that to our children and to our children's children.