Ladies and Gentlemen,
I did just want to thank you all for your commitment through your companies' efforts and through your own - to make a real difference in some of this country's hardest-to-reach communities. And I wanted to pay particular tribute to Lindsey, for sharing your inspirational and touching thoughts on how, through working together, we can make that difference.
Almost twenty-five years ago, I realized that there was a tremendous missed opportunity certainly as far as the UK was concerned then - namely for business leaders to understand more fully the social and environmental issues affecting their communities and for them to try to do something about them.
So I started by dragging unfortunate businessmen and women to come with me in trains and taxis and so on to look at different sites where people were meeting real challenges that needed overcoming. And interestingly by taking people to see these things they then started to see what these issues were. And for many of them it was almost like a conversion process. And as a result they started to become more enthusiastic and we managed to hold on to quite a lot of them, going on and taking an interest and helping.
So, with this in mind, I set up my Prince's Seeing is Believing programme in the United Kingdom with a simple aim, which was to close the gap between the boardroom and the community. Over the years, I have seen how this experience has opened eyes, broken down barriers, changed perceptions and created new opportunities - both for the communities concerned, and of course for the businesses themselves - that's the point. I am so proud that, with the help of my Prince's Charities Canada, a similar initiative has now taken root in Canada.
As I've said to some of the people I've met going round the room, half the battle very often is actually businesses helping to provide their management skills and the ability of those organizations to help people through the endless red tape bureaucracy. People find it so hard and businesses often has the key through the management ability that can be transfered to other people.
My Seeing is Believing programmes are about encouraging business and community leaders, such as yourselves, to apply business-thinking to help solve community needs in an integrated way and with a long-term view. The whole purpose is to get inspirational and capable leaders out into the communities to meet extraordinary individuals, the community leaders, the characters, the personalities that make things happen, to gain new perspectives and debate with their peers, and finally to develop sustainable solutions with expert help.
Le programme Le voir, c'est le croire vise à encourager les dirigeants d'entreprises et les dirigeants communautaires comme vous à avoir recours à leur vision des affaires pour régler des problÃ¨mes communautaires d'une maniÃ¨re intégrée et selon une vision à long terme. L'objectif global de cette démarche est d'encourager des dirigeants compétents et charismatiques à rencontrer des gens extraordinaires dans leur collectivité, à obtenir de nouvelles perspectives, à discuter avec leurs pairs et, finalement, à élaborer des solutions durables en compagnie d'experts.
I have been greatly encouraged by hearing from so many of you today about the new opportunities that you have developed for young people as a result of your Seeing is Believing visits to Winnipeg, Calgary, Regina, to London, and to Toronto and Halifax as well. If I may say so, you have proven that your leadership can be leveraged to have such a powerful impact in helping vulnerable communities.
With such encouraging results already well afoot in Canada, I am so pleased that we are now taking the next step, together, by linking Canadian business leaders from coast, to coast - to establish my Prince's Canadian Responsible Business Network. With your networked leadership, I look forward to the pilot projects in Winnipeg, Halifax and Toronto over the coming months that will focus on providing job readiness, employability and skills for disadvantaged young people. It seems to me that there are so many opportunities to make a real difference.
I am enormously grateful to Galen Weston for his leadership in shaping the beginnings of this new Network and to the support of the C.E.O.s of some of Canada's most forward-thinking and influential companies including George Weston Limited, K.P.M.G., who has always been there to help right from the very beginning whether in the UK or elsewhere - the caring accountants! -, R.B.C. Royal Bank, and Scotiabank.
I look forward to seeing you on my next visit to Canada and in the meantime, I can only wish you every possible success ...