Ladies and Gentlemen,
Like all these things, I'm only as good as the people who help and are prepared to come and support a lot of these sorts of ventures, and I hugely grateful to Richard Martin for his extraordinary enthusiasm and, more than that, his business acumen and everything else, which has enabled PRIME to flourish under his Chairmanship. I think some of you probably may know that all this really started quite a long time ago, when I found that I was getting more and more letters from people over 50 who were being made redundant in one way or another during an extraordinary obsession there was about 20 years ago with de-manning and de-layering and everything else. So, I thought, if this is happening and I'm getting all these letters, there is clearly a real problem out there, so that is what led to my getting a group of people together round a table to work out whether there was something we could do to respond to all these letters.
To cut a long story short, PRIME developed out of that, which was really I suppose an effort to try and do the same sort of thing with over 50s as we'd been doing with younger people in my Prince's Trust. I tell you something that's made my day today, is meeting one of the clients of PRIME here, who's been set up in business, who told me that when he was in his 20s he came to my Prince's Trust and has come round again, now he's got older, and turned up here with PRIME. The miracle was he'd actually heard of it, because as you can imagine, one of the great difficulties is to allow enough people to understand what we're trying to do, let alone that there is a problem out there. You hear an awful lot about youth unemployment, and as you know The Prince's Trust tries to do its upmost to tackle that, and that's how we started the Enterprise Programme back in the early 80s when there was a large problem with unemployment. For instance, just in August, the were some 425,000 over 50s who were registered as unemployed, and 46% of those were unemployed for more than 12 months.
So often, it turns out that sometimes the only really viable alternative is self-employment for many people in this situation, and the extraordinary thing, Ladies and Gentlemen, is that PRIME is still, at the end of the day, the only charity dedicated to helping the over 50s into self-employment. I was thrilled to discover this afternoon, that they'd heard about us in France and Ireland, and that there's been a certain amount of collaboration as far as approaching the EU is concerned, which has led to some quite valuable results. So today just gives me an opportunity, if I may say so, to pay a very special tribute to all those marvellous volunteers, many of whom are here today, who help PRIME in all sorts of different ways, particularly mentoring. And I met quite a few of the mentors today who are clearly making a big difference to all the mentees, and listening to what they were saying, they hugely value their experience and the support they can offer.
Also, I wanted to thank all our Ambassadors, an increasing number of marvellous people who go round promoting the cause of over 50s unemployed issues. The great thing, I think, about all this effort, is that no-one should be afraid of backing someone because of their age because at the end of the day, if it's a good idea, it's a good idea, whatever age you are. So we aim through PRIME, to show that there's still life in the old dog yet! And so often we find that over 50s who start their own businesses actually are more sustainable, in terms of a percentage of the success rate than those who are younger. So I think probably age and experience and wisdom does help you.
I also particularly wanted to thank the individuals and corporate donors who make the whole point of this operation viable. If we didn't have that support, we didn't have all the generous donors, then we would not the able to do all this, so I just wanted to express the greatest possible appreciation for all their support.
I also wanted to thank the government Social Action Fund, for all that it has done to provide assistance for PRIME, to help recruit volunteers and generally expand and improve the operation of PRIME all over the country; and for all the Social Action Fund does to encourage people to donate their time and their expertise to charities like PRIME. If it wasn't for that assistance, it would be so much more difficult. But Ladies and Gentlemen, at last I think, the message is beginning to get through about the fact that PRIME exists, the kind of difference it can make to people's lives, and I hope those of you who've been round today and seen the businesses, will understand just how valuable this particular charity can be, and how it can provide hope and success as people get older so thank you for all your help.