Your Royal Highnesses,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Σας καλοσωρίζω με ιδιαίτερη χαρά στο St James’s Palace.
[I am so pleased to be able to welcome you all to St. James’s Palace this afternoon.]
Having ruined the Greek language... I really want to say more than anything else that I am so grateful to Prince Pavlos for all his remarkable assistance with my Prince’s Trust. Having known him since before he was born, it has been fascinating watching him grow up and to see where he ends up, and I was hugely touched, I was so flattered, when he wanted to help. We talked about this some years ago and it has taken some years, but to have all of you here is remarkable, if I may say so. So much due to his efforts and hard work since we were in Greece last year, so it really does give me the greatest possible pleasure to have this opportunity to celebrate with you the work of my Prince’s Trust International in Greece.
As many of you may possibly know, I have long been concerned that far too many of our young people – in this country and in many other countries too – lack the basic confidence and skills needed to achieve their full potential.
It was in the 1970s that I began to wonder whether I might, in some small way or other, be able to help with this myself, and whether it might be possible, with the assistance of modest sums of money, to provide personal development opportunities for young people and to empower them to get their own initiatives off the ground. Of course, not everyone was convinced by this idea. As you can imagine, many feared the young people would simply run off with the money as I was all prepared to take a risk with the hardest-to-reach characters… However, I am pleased and proud to say that the trust we showed in these young people was handsomely repaid – the schemes were a huge success, as it turned out, with the help from all the marvellous people who made it work and laid the foundations of what became my Prince’s Trust.
Since then, Ladies and Gentlemen, the Trust has gone from strength to strength and has supported some 950,000 young people across the United Kingdom, nearly getting to a million. I was hoping they were going to get to a million by the time I reached 70 but we didn’t quite, and now we’re doing this in other parts of the world as well, with nearly 90,000 businesses having been started with my Trust’s help in this country and some elsewhere.
So I was particularly determined that my Trust should see whether it might be possible to take this work to Greece, and to play its part in helping young Greeks address some of the economic and huge social challenges that Greece has faced with, if I may say so, such immense resilience in recent years. My own ties to Greece have particular importance to me – it is, after all, the land of my Grandfather – and over these past years, I have followed with close interest, and considerable concern, the way in which life has been so unbelievably difficult for so many people in Greece, and particularly the young, with, as you know better than I, youth unemployment at a staggering 39% and many young people, and their families, still deeply affected by the financial crisis.
Now, all of this means, as many of you will know far better than I do, that the tremendous potential of Greece’s young people has become frustrated by the chronic lack of job opportunities for graduates, with many young people having to take lower-paid jobs.
It seemed to me, therefore, that the kinds of proven, targeted youth interventions in which my Trust specializes, could perhaps make a significant difference in Greece, particularly by helping with access to work skills and work experience; and by helping young people to start their own businesses.
So in an effort to address these needs, my Prince’s Trust International, in partnership with The Bodossaki Foundation, and training delivery partners, Knowl Social Enterprise, have been running the ‘Get Into' programme in Greece for the past year, with some really encouraging results – helping more than forty young people move into full-time employment with our employer partners, Vodafone, Goldair Handling, AVIN and Aegean Airlines.
Furthermore, Prince’s Trust International has worked with the Corallia and Action Finance Initiative (AFI), a microfinance organisation, to provide loans to young people as part of the Enterprise programme. These young people are now working with mentors, as was mentioned just now, to build their business plans and are demonstrating extraordinary ingenuity with business ideas ranging from zero-waste supermarkets, to colleges of self-education, to, can you believe it, communal dog washing facilities!
Now, Ladies and Gentlemen, I hope that you will not only share my sense of encouragement at this success, but also my determination that, together, we can do so much more. My Trust has set itself, I hate to say, the ambitious goal of helping over 2,200 young people in Greece over the next five years to get into jobs and develop their own businesses. Over the next year, Prince’s Trust International will roll out ten Enterprise programmes across Athens, expanding to further locations in 2020, with the aim of supporting 450 people a year by 2023.
Needless to say, none of this will be possible without the generosity of all those who support and advise my Trust, and so I did just want to offer my very special thanks to Dean and Marianne Metropoulos, Xanthi and Father Alex Karloutos, who turns out to know practically everybody and to be their Father Confessor so altogether a very useful combination, and I’m hugely, hugely grateful to him for dragging you all here. And obviously I’m hugely thankful to all our supporters in Greece, who are helping us to succeed in this vital work.
Ladies and Gentlemen, it seems to me that every young person, wherever they live, deserves a chance to succeed – and that when that chance is given, we all share in the dividend. With your support, we can offer such a chance to even more young people in Greece and empower them to play their part in shaping the future of their country and their society. At the end of the day, I can think of few things that are more important than this, and I really could hardly be more grateful to all of you for your enormous interest and kindness in helping us to make it a reality.
Μαζί μπορούμε να βοηθήσουμε τους νέους της Ελλάδος να χτίσουν ένα λαμπρό μέλλον για τον εαυτό τους και την χώρα τους.
[Together, we can help the young people of Greece to build a brighter future for themselves and their country.]