Prince Charles’ 70th birthday marks one of his greatest achievements - The Prince’s Trust
- Credit: PA Archive/PA Images
As the Prince of Wales celebrates his 70th birthday this week, Nicky Barrell finds out how The Prince's Trust continues to improve the lives of disadvantaged young people across East Anglia.
On leaving the Royal Navy in 1976, Prince Charles came up with the idea to invest his £7,400 severance pay to help tackle the impact of high levels of unemployment and inflation on young people.
By his own admission in an ITV 40th anniversary documentary, Prince Charles said that 'people didn't see the point.' The cynical reaction to his wish to invest in youth charity projects further fuelled his determination. 'What struck me was that young people weren't being given the opportunities quickly enough. No one was putting the trust in them they needed.'
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Over the past 40 years, The Prince's Trust has provided practical and financial support to more than 900,000 young people either in or leaving care, facing issues such as homelessness or in trouble with the law.
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Prince Charles initially financed 21 projects across the UK including providing support to two ex-offenders who wanted to run a fishing club to hiring swimming pools in Cornwall to help train young life guards.
Against the backdrop of youth riots across major UK cities such as Brixton and Liverpool in the early 1980s, the Trust's Enterprise Programme was launched to help young people achieve their dreams of setting up a business.
From the seedlings of funding a variety of projects – these charities were brought together to form The Prince's Trust and granted a Royal Charter by The Queen in 1999 at Buckingham Palace.
The Trust soon branched out from its initial focus on delivering new business and employment programmes to funding education projects including Achieve – a flexible learning programme for 13 to 19-year-olds which could be delivered in PRUs, YOIs and colleges. The latest initiative Mosaic offers accredited mentioning programmes in schools situated in the country's most deprived areas.
Since Joan Armatrading, Phil Collins and Madness performed at the first rock gala in 1982, the impact of the Trust on many young people's lives has spurred other international rock stars, fashion designers and celebrities to offer both time and money in aid of The Prince's Trust.
Urban Music Festivals and Fashion Rocks have involved a glittering line up of stars including Queen, Dizzee Rascal, Amy Winehouse, The Spice Girls, Giorgio Armani and Alexander McQueen. Other celebrities have made personal donations including will.i.am who gave £500,000 to The Truck to kick start a focus on STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) skills to equip youngsters for a digital future.
Top British comedians, magicians and impressionists took to the stage along with Sooty and Sweep for the We Are Most Amused and Amazed show televised on ITV in celebration of the Prince's 70th birthday and in aid of the charity.
The Trust's Royal founder has also engaged corporate businesses to lend their support. RBS helped to produce a landmark report in 2007 which found that youth crime and educational underachievement was costing society billions. The Trust joined forces with Marks & Spencers and HSBC and other major employers to tackle youth unemployment through the Movement to Work programme.
Ryan Taylor, of Ipswich, was on the verge of giving up getting a new job after his sales role became redundant. He was given the opportunity to sign up to Team Programme, where the skills he learnt helped boost the 25-year-old Dad's confidence and motivation. He is now leading new business and marketing initiatives for Total Car Parks.
'I spent the first month applying for everything I saw. Then I applied for every other thing for the next two months but by the time a year had passed I wasn't even interested anymore. I had a child on the way and bills to pay, I had well and truly given up. However, I was fortunate enough to be pointed in the direction of the Prince's Trust Team Programme, and things began to change.'
Over the years many businesses across East Anglia have also signed up to initiatives including Get Into Retail. Jarrold department store supported by The John Jarrold Trust gave 14 young people the chance to complete a four week mentoring and work placement both in the store and in e-commerce and customer service.
Laura London, HR Manager at Jarrold said: 'It was an honour for Jarrold to be part of what is a fantastic and potentially life-changing opportunity for young people who might not have otherwise had the chance to gain valuable work experience. The programme not only gives young people experience in a retail environment but also helps boost their confidence by developing their communication skills, promoting teamwork and helping them complete HABC Level 2 Award in Customer Service and Conflict Management.'
Shay Christon and Blake McCulloch have both been employed as part of Jarrold Christmas team which means they are deployed across the store to wherever help is needed and are working across a variety of different departments.
Shay said: 'I am so pleased to have been offered my first job at Jarrold and I am really enjoying working with such a helpful and supportive group of people.'
Blake said: 'I love Christmas so the opportunity to work at Jarrold in such a lively and buzzing time of year is just great for me. Jarrold is just a fabulous place to be at Christmas for all our customers and our colleagues too.'
Prince Charles' determination to stick with his gut instinct and his personal dedication to the charity has certainly paid dividends. Not only for the thousands of young people like Ryan and Shay it has helped but a recent independent study revealed that over the past 10 years £1.4 billion has also been added in value to the UK economy - a good return on the initial investment of £7,400.
Ryan Taylor, Ipswich, Suffolk
Ryan, from Ipswich, is 25 years old and a father of two children. Ryan left school with poor GCSE results but walked straight into
a job on leaving school washing pots in a local pub. Over the years, he became a chef and started training as a kitchen manager, but a
change in management meant that he left this job to pursue a career in sales. Although he was very successful in this sales role the projects he was working on reached their targets in a much shorter time span than expected and he was forced to leave the company. 'I spent the first month applying for everything I saw. Then I applied for every other thing for the next two months but by the time a year had passed I wasn't even interested anymore. I had a child on the way and bills to pay, I had well and truly given up.'
After speaking with the Team Leader, Ryan felt nervous about joining Team but at the same time, inspired. Ryan says that Team was one of the greatest experiences of his life and his confidence and belief in himself was not only restored, but strengthened in a way he had not considered.
'I realised that I have the ability to lead. I would not have considered myself a leader before Team and now I am always ready to lead any project available. I developed the ability to focus on what I want and how to motivate myself to achieve my goals.'
While on Team, Ryan had a work placement with Total Car Parks in Ipswich and they were so impressed with him that they offered him a full-time job as a Junior Administrator. 'I am currently working for Total Car ParksLtd - I have been employed by them for over three years. Most people would
describe me as 'the ideas man' as my true hobby is attempting to think of the next big thing.'
Ryan has been promoted several times and he now leads Business Development and is the marketing/sales force behind their New Business Team.
'I am now working closely with the MD of Total Car Parks Ltd developing new business throughout the country and strategically sourcing new clients and opportunities.
I have also been able to launch a brand of my own ideas through TCPL called 'Go Ticketing'. My idea was to take one of our existing services and create a brand based solely around it, allowing for focused marketing of the product. When it was launched, we acquired seven new
contracts within the first three weeks! Ryan is positive that in the future he will get the opportunity to develop his ideas into an innovative and successful company of his own.
Fay Greene of Felixstowe, Suffolk, started her own dog grooming business. Within a couple of months the 32-year-old had found her feet and built up a good reputation. However, shortly after she got married, Fay found out she was pregnant. Around the same time, both her father and father-in-law were diagnosed with cancer. She and her husband had also just started running a pub and something had to give - the dog grooming business had to close. Three years later things went drastically wrong and Fay and her family had to walk away from the pub - they came away with nothing. She was jobless, broke, homeless, and heavily pregnant with her second child. The family were put into temporary accommodation and were eventually offered a housing association property. In January 2014, Fay started searching online for business loans and Government grants and came across The Prince's Trust's Enterprise Programme.
Fay completed the Explore Enterprise course and drew up an in-depth business plan for her company Fay's Diamond Dog Grooming. She was also matched with Tracey, a Prince's Trust Volunteer Business Mentor. Fay has built up an excellent local reputation and has continued to expand her knowledge, gain qualifications and win many accolades. She is also a proud founder member of the British Isles Grooming Association and The Groomers Spotlight. 'A lot of businesses fold within the first year of trading and mine may well have been one of them without my mentor's support and The Prince's Trust. I will be forever grateful to them for their belief in me and for giving me my first big break.
'None of this would have been possible without the help of The Prince's Trust and my mentor. It is a wonderful feeling knowing that every day I get to do what I love and that I am providing for my family.'