If I can just say, I go back rather a long way I'm afraid in all this because about forty years ago I remember, when in those days I was allowed to speak in the House of Lords, suggesting that what we really needed was a kind of national community service scheme and in those days nobody really wanted to know. Since then gradually, bit by bit I think it has become more apparent that there is a need to enable young people to make a contribution and it seemed to me that as different initiatives were developing in this field, in fact The Prince's Trust, which I started 40 years ago next year – can you believe it, has been much involved in this sort of area trying to help develop young people's self confidence and self-esteem and to enable them to achieve the kind of things they would like to achieve, in other words to help them develop their own potential. That kind of approach I think has made an enormous difference and all sorts of young people have been able to achieve an enormous amount as a result.
It just seemed to me that there were huge tricks being missed particularly in the field of young people's organisations, extra-curricular opportunities in schools, cadet units, all these things and when I discovered a few years ago there was an enormous backlog of young people, for instance, wanting to get into the scouts and guides, or the boys brigades, girl brigades, organisations like that, all because there was a shortage of leaders and volunteers, it seemed to me that again there was a lot of opportunity to build on.
So we managed to launch Step Up to Serve two years ago with cross party agreement. Since the launch in 2013, I'm glad to say that more than 400 organisations have joined the campaign and if I can just say, ladies and gentlemen, the goal is deliberately ambitious: we want to enable, if we can, an additional 1.5 million young people to participate in social action by 2020. Again if I may say so, your involvement, your willingness to help and your enthusiasm is enormously appreciated and the fact that your are here today is even more appreciated.
I think the evidence shows that by participating in social action young people simultaneously enhance their employability skills, developing resilience and empathy, while also honing problem-solving, team-working and communication skills. You don't have to take it just from me, because I am just quoting our campaign partners such as the Confederation of British Industry and the Chartered Institute for Personnel and Development, so at least there is some evidence of all this.
If I may say so, it is very good to see that the campaign has rapidly grown into a UK-wide initiative and I just wanted to say today, again, that it all depends on bringing together as many willing partners as possible to enable young people to have the kind of impact that I know they want to have in so many different areas of the country. The fact that we have all nations involved here and taking part today is even more encouraging. So thank you ladies and gentlemen for all your help and involvement.