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This was originally published in the April 2014 edition of the Cardiff Times.

Recently the Prince’s Trust released a report which painted a sad picture of the mental health of todays young and unemployed. According to the report three-quarters of them believe they have nothing to live for. 40% of jobless young people have faced symptoms of mental illness as a result of being out of work. One in three have contemplated suicide. Personally I can empathise with this mindset. On occasions I feel like a failure for being unemployed. Such facts therefore make its efforts to recognise and tap their potential all the more important for young people and indeed, the future of our society itself. First established in 1976 by The Prince of Wales, the organisation has grown from 21 initial pilot projects across the country to offering a wide range of opportunities including training, personal development, business start up support, mentoring and advice.

Certainly if hadn’t got involved with the Prince’s Trust I might a little less confident about my own future prospects than I am now. Being among around the 58,000 young people the Prince’s Trust will help this year I have significantly more confidence I can move forward from being one of 1 million young people in the UK currently not in employment, education or training. I am sure that like me, many of those in this situation are desperate to progress in life and gain employment. Currently I am on the Fairbridge program but hope to progress into their Get Into or Get Started programmes. The Get Into programme is a short vocational course that develop young people’s skills in a specific job sector while the Get Started programme is a course run by professional tutors in sport, music and creative arts.

Through the program I have met people from significantly more challenging backgrounds than myself – I believe I am one of the very few with a university degree – but from my own experience so far the Prince’s Trust doesn’t distinguish between people from different backgrounds. All they see is the potential in them and by providing vital support, try to unlock it. In this way it quite inspiring and eye-opening to meet people from different walks of life you might not have otherwise encountered and challenge your own stereotypes.

My own experiences so far have given me a major boost and confidence that I can achieve progress in my life. Most importantly, it is simply great fun to participate in social activities such as ice climbing, mountain biking and canoeing where you can learn important skills such as teamwork. As a socially shy person who experiences speech and language  difficulties it gives me the chance and the motivation to get out of my house. It also builds my social confidence through encountering new experiences previously outside my comfort zone and thereby extending it. By setting and proceeding with my own personal goals one at a time I am given the opportunity to succeed on my own terms.

In the end, when you become involved in the Prince’s Trust it doesn’t matter where you came from and what you have done in the past, but where you can go and what you have yet to potentially achieve.

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