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Thursday, 2 October 2008

Prince's Trust 25 Years Celebration

This evening I went to a celebration of 25 years of The Prince's Trust Business Programme, hosted by ITV West's Lisa Aziz.

It was a remarkable evening. I had not realised just how much work the Prince's Trust does in launching young people with talent and ideas, but without financial or personal backing, into the world to fulful their potential.

One of the most impressive things about the programme is that it does not patronise young people, but asks them to pay the Trust back as they earn their money and get on in the world.

Not only does the scheme make social and moral sense, it also makes financial sense. We were told how one estimate puts the cost of socially excluded young people at £4m per week, just for this area. Many socially excluded young people may have found it hard to excel in the restrictive environment of school, but are natural entrepreneurs in the tough world outside the school gates.

We met several young people whose lives had been turned around by the Prince's Trust business programme - Celestine Walcott-Gordon started the evening off with a rendition of 'feeling good' that could have been sung by Nina Simone herself.

Then we heard from Paul Bradley who suffered from mental illness after a time serving in the forces in Afghanistan, Macedonia and Northern Ireland, and who wasn't sure how to make his way in the world, but now is forging a name for himself as a successful entertainer under "Ginger Enterprises".

We met Rob Law, a dragons den reject who, thanks to a Prince's Trust grant, went on to found 'Trunki', and JoeBurke who runs "Thirst Solution" . Best known product: a backpack which carries 21litres of liquid - ideal for a party, or for distributing drink, tea, coffee etc at big events. He now has international contracts.

I also talked to Lorna Knapman, (in the photo) who is filling the market gap for healthy food for children, 'Bitesize' and runs the new 'Love Food' Festival. As more evidence sugguests that diet may be partially responsible for rising levels of ADHD, not to mention obesity, Lorna has really hit on something big.

These are people who didn't give up, had a lot to give, but needed an initial helping hand financially, and moral support from The Prince's Trust mentors. All I met were so grateful to the trust and committed to helping others like them forge a path to fulfillment and success.

But ... they still have a £500,000 funding gap. If you feel you can help, you can make a donation at www.justgiving.com/investinginenterprise - You can be certain it will be money multiplied, not wasted.

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