The COVID-19 crisis is hitting young people harder and faster than any other group in society.
Young people are more likely to recover from the virus itself but are the first to be impacted in the economic fall-out. Many have been furloughed and will struggle to find meaningful work experience. Not surprisingly, this is impacting them emotionally – a Prince’s Trust study has found that 43% of 16-25 year olds feel increased levels of anxiety.
1 in 6 young people are now out of work globally because of the effects of COVID-19 and even before the crisis they were three times more likely to be unemployed than older adults. The picture is also increasing bleak in terms of education opportunities: before the crisis 258 million children were out of school and this number has risen to 1.5 billion during the worst of the pandemic. If we do not take significant and immediate action to improve their situation, the legacy of the virus could be with us for decades.
I first started working with the Prince’s Trust back in 2012 as part of my role as CEO for HSBC in the UK. I did that because of a desire to help and support young people. This is something I care deeply about and think about often, particularly now as a father of two children. The young people of today will shape the future of our society; hopefully a more prosperous and tolerant one.
Over the years, I have seen incredible examples of young people overcoming difficult circumstances with the support of the Trust so that they can achieve success on their own merits. This is the true sense of meritocracy; it is about creating opportunities and giving a ‘hand-up’ rather than a ‘hand-out’.
One of those remarkable young people is Glory Augusto. I met Glory in 2014 at a House of Commons event to celebrate the young people HSBC had supported through The Prince’s Trust. Glory was raised by a single parent in a council estate; he overcame the stereotypes associated with a young black man and graduated from university, but still struggled to find a job. He then came across the Prince’s Trust ‘Get into’ scheme and joined HSBC as a customer service officer in the Mayfair branch. I remember our first conversation when he told me how proud he was to wear HSBC’s uniform and that his ambition was to get my job! We have kept in touch over the last 6 years and I have watched proudly as he has progressed quickly through the organisation. He became a Mortgage Specialist, then a Client Service Associate in Global Liquidity and Cash Management and then moved on to the Head Office. He now works as a Business Support Manager in Wealth and Personal Banking and I am looking forward to following his continued success.
It was meeting Glory and many others which made me want to become a Trustee of Prince’s Trust International (PTI), the overseas arm of Prince’s Trust, founded in 2015. PTI has a proven track record of delivery working with local partners in 13 countries around the world to help young people re-engage with education, start their careers and build their own businesses. PTI has reached over 16,000 young people since its inception; critically 66% of those young people have successfully moved into work, education or training since 2018.
PTI’s work is even more important, now, during this crisis. We have a responsibility as a society not to fail these young people. I have been impressed by the agility and robustness of the organisation during this crisis, rapidly adapting and accelerating their digital delivery to reach more young people.
But we need your help to do more. This is not about funding an organisation to survive during a crisis, but to thrive, develop and reach more young people. This is about tangible solutions to provide young people with the tools and skills to build their futures. That is why PTI has launched a Response & Recovery Appeal. We need help to raise £5 million this year to deliver support to over 10,000 young people across Africa, Asia, Europe, the Middle East and the Caribbean.
Over the coming months and years, many more young people will struggle; they need us now more than ever to invest in their future. We cannot leave them behind. Please support Prince’s Trust International’s appeal and help us build futures for young people worldwide.
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