Martina Milburn CBE has been in post as CEO of The Prince’s Trust since 2004 and has a lot of experience working in the charity sector. She was awarded her CBE for services to charity in the 2012 New Year’s Honours list. We met up to discuss The Trust and how Rotary is helping.
I began by asking Martina why The Prince’s Trust was set up and what it does now, to which she replied, “The Prince’s Trust was founded by HRH The Prince of Wales in 1976 because he wanted to make a practical difference for young people who lacked opportunities. This year we are celebrating 40 years of supporting 13 to 30 year-olds who are unemployed or struggling at school.
“Many of the young people we help at The Prince’s Trust are either in or leaving care, facing issues such as homelessness or suffering from mental health problems, or they have been in trouble with the law.”
“The Trust’s programmes give vulnerable young people the practical and financial support needed to stabilise their lives, helping develop self-esteem and skills for work. Three in four young people supported by our charity move into work, education or training.”
I went on to ask Martina to tell me about some of the programmes and projects that help young people, “We work with schools to provide young people with the space and attention they need to develop confidence as well as to form a sense of ownership over their work and their own development.”
“We also run a 12-week personal development course for teams of young people who need to boost their confidence and skills.”
“For unemployed young people, we run our ‘Get into’ programmes, which are two to six week courses that develop young people’s skills in a specific sector and support them into employment. Our ‘Enterprise’ programme aims at helping unemployed young people to start their own businesses through the provision of startup funding and mentoring.”
The impression I have always had when dealing with the Prince’s Trust was that its main objective was to get young people into employment.
She commented, “It is one of our main objectives, although it is not the only one. We also help young people re-engage or move into education and equip them to go and do further training. ”
“At The Trust, we are extremely fortunate to be able to work with fantastic partners who help us deliver our programmes and give the young people practical experience of the working world. We work with public bodies, multinational corporations and SMEs across the UK to provide the hardest to reach young people with the skills they need to move out, very often, of long term unemployment.”
“Over 40 years we have seen young people’s needs evolve and we try to make sure that our programmes are constantly updated to meet the requirements of the job market.”
“We have, for example, been developing our STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) agenda, from app design to stargazing, and animation to robotics, we make sure that our STEM activities are engaging and relevant, and help young people get the skills they need to progress into training, education or employment.”
Martina mentioned working with partners so I decided to dig a little deeper and ask her about those relationships, “We could not do the work that we do without the incredible support we get from our partners and, of course, the individuals who donate.”
“Every contribution counts and helps us go on to help more young people. The scale of the problem we are tackling is such that we need as much support as possible.”
“We are privileged to have partners who have supported us for well over a decade now, such as The Premier League, Cunard, NatWest and Accenture. But we are constantly establishing new partnerships both on a national level and in the regions across the UK.”
“The breadth of our work is such that companies of all shapes and sizes can make a real difference, by supporting us financially and by helping us deliver our programmes, giving young people valuable hands-on experience. So it’s everyone really from HSBC to the local garage.”
We then moved on to talk about the involvement of Rotary with The Prince’s Trust since there is a great following of the Prince’s work with The Trust amongst Rotarians and clubs. I wondered how much we, as an organisation, contribute in terms of donations and hands-on support.
Martina commented, “Rotary clubs are a fantastic network of people who are committed to giving back to their local communities. Through the years, Rotary clubs across the UK have made donations to The Prince’s Trust, in particular through putting on fundraising events. We are hugely grateful for donations big or small that we have received thanks to the generosity of all those involved with Rotary clubs.”
I did know of several clubs who contribute ‘hands-on’ work with The Trust so I asked Martina about that, “There are a myriad of possibilities for local business owners to get involved delivering our programmes.”
“We would encourage those who want to find out more to get in touch with us through our centres across the UK or through our website princes-trust.org.uk. We would love to hear from them and explore ways of working together to help more and more young people.”
Since Martina mentioned working with Rotary I sought out one club which has worked with The Prince’s Trust for a number of years.
The Rotary Club of Northampton Becket has worked with The Prince’s Trust for over three years and over that time this has involved working with 10 teams from Northampton North branch.
Tim Noble, from the Rotary Club of Northampton Becket, told me about the work they do, “We’ve seen some amazing things from these groups of young people. We have been able to help with funding for individuals to purchase clothes and shoes for job interviews, who have nothing but what they stand up in. However the main help we give them is with their Community Project.”
When talking with Tim the enthusiasm and motivation for the work with The Prince’s Trust became obvious as he excitedly told me what they are doing.
“Some of the community projects that Northampton North Prince’s Trust teams and the Rotary Club of Northampton Becket have carried out include raised beds and gardens for special need schools, and fencing, paths, garden shelters and gardens for Nazareth House, a care home for elderly folk with Alzheimer’s and dementia.”
“The latest project that I’m working on with them includes doing up a shop and making flower planters for a charity that helps with mentally and physically handicapped people. This team will be working with the end users on this project across three weeks.”
As a result of this work Tim has invited the young people he works with to Rotary club meetings for them to present the work and talk about the help they get from The Trust.
Many of the young people we help at The Prince’s Trust are either in or leaving care, facing issues such as homelessness or suffering from mental health problems”
Tim explained, “They stand up and tell the members about their past and how they came to be on The Prince’s Trust course and what it means to them and their future. It also amazes me how these young people can get on their feet and tell some harrowing stories, but they realise The Prince’s Trust is about their future.”
“The presentations they do at our club help to build their confidence up. Our members have also visited community projects the young people are working on and they talk with the guys and show them that people do care about them, as some of the group will have no one for support.”
“This is so important and means so much more than monies being donated! As a result of the presentations to the club, opportunities have arisen for members to give them employment and they have been top class and have gone to college and gained qualifications that they thought unachievable a few months before starting The Trust course.”
Tim obviously really enjoys the work he does with The Prince’s Trust teams, “I could go on and on about how fantastic these guys are on The Prince’s Trust teams, that they just haven’t been given a chance and have probably made some bad life choices in the past.”
“We at the Rotary Club of Northampton Becket Rotary Club try to help in all areas. Working with The Prince’s Trust teams has been one of the most rewarding things that’s happened in my life and with every new team we have new challenges and new rewards.”
When talking with The Prince’s Trust there was an amazing willingness to help and put forward the young person’s viewpoint. I thought I would finish up by going back to Martina for the final word since we need to look very much to the future and asked her what are the challenges looking forward?
Martina replied, “The youth unemployment rate is four times higher than the unemployment rate for adults who are 25 and over; and the proportion of young people who are “long-term unemployed” is 33%.
This means that our task is by no means over. We help 100 more young people each day. We value and need the support of all those who generously give to continue saving young people’s lives.
“Above and beyond helping young people move into work, education or training, we are concerned about the general well-being of the young people who join our courses.”
“Frequently when asked how The Trust has helped them, young people will answer saying the programme they went on increased their social skills, in particular their confidence. We are constantly looking at new ways of helping more young people gain these vital skills.”