The UK was struggling with record levels of unemployment and spiraling inflation; young people were being left behind. The Prince used his Navy severance pay – £7,400 – to fund a number of community initiatives.
Twenty-one pilot projects were set up around the country. Grants were given to a 19-year old woman to run a social centre for the Haggerston Housing Estate in East London and for two ex-offenders to run a fishing club. Funds hired swimming baths in Cornwall to train young life guards and for a self-help bicycle repair scheme.
These early initiatives were the founding projects of The Prince’s Trust.
Unemployment rose above three million. Brixton, Leeds, Birmingham and Liverpool were torn by riots. Too many young people felt they had no stake in society.
Against this backdrop The Prince’s Trust grew up. The Enterprise programme was launched in 1983 and within three years 1,000 young people were supported to start a business.
The Prince of Wales Community Venture also began. This was an intensive 42-week programme, containing a mix of challenges, outdoors activity, teamwork, and community projects. This later developed into the hugely successful 12-week Team programme.
During the same period, The Trust decided to break the charity mould and held its first fundraising concerts. The first Prince's Trust Rock Gala was held at the Dominion Tottenham Court Road, with Madness, Joan Armatrading, Phil Collins, Kate Bush and Pete Townshend. Rock galas continued through the 80s and 90s.
The Team programme was launched in 1990, starting a decade of innovation which saw the foundation of Development Awards and Sound Live, a forerunner of the current Get Started programme.
The Trust held the first rock concert in Hyde Park for over 20 years and began its partnership with the Premier League, Football Foundation and Professional Footballers’ Association. The Trust realised that it could tap into young people’s passions – fashion, music, media and sport – to engage them in programmes which would change their lives.
New initiatives were launched: mentors for teenagers leaving care, a scheme to target young offenders and xl clubs to motivate 15 and 16-year-olds and keep them at school.
In 1999, the various Trust charities were brought together as The Prince’s Trust. This was recognised by HM The Queen at a ceremony in Buckingham Palace where The Trust was granted a Royal Charter.
By 2001, The Trust was supporting 25,000 young people each year; a national charity with impressive scale and impact. Mass unemployment seemed a thing of the past and The Trust turned its attention to the long-term jobless, those in greatest need of support.
In 2004, Martina Milburn CBE joined as Chief Executive. Her mission was to secure the long-term future of the charity through a focus on consistent, high-quality support to all the young people The Trust engaged.
Party in the Park was followed by the Urban Music Festivals, Fashion Rocks and a spectacular 30th birthday fundraiser on ITV.
In 2007, The Trust launched a landmark report, in partnership with RBS, which calculated the Cost of Exclusion. Unemployment, youth crime and educational underachievement were costing society billions. The Trust began to communicate its worth through the news media and the rapidly developing digital channels.
In 2009 The Trust sent its first Tweet.
The economic crisis had a devastating impact on young people with one in five 16 to 25-year-olds out of work. The Trust responded by tightening its belt and helping more young people each year, despite the challenge of raising more than a million pounds each week.
will.i.am donated £500,000 to The Trust to kick-start a focus on STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths) skills to better equip young people for a digital future.
Even as the economy recovered, long-term youth unemployment remained stubbornly high. The Trust joined forces with Marks & Spencer, HSBC and other major employers to tackle youth unemployment through the Movement to Work.
To date, The Trust has reached more than 825,000 young people with three in four achieving a positive outcome – moving into education, employment or training.
In 2016, The Trust launched its new education programme - Achieve, offered to 13 to 19-year-olds. We recognised that not all young people thrive in a traditional education setting, such as a school, so we developed our Achieve programme to provide a flexible approach to learning. The programme can be delivered in a variety of settings such as PRUs, YOIs, colleges and in some locations, in a Prince's Trust centre.
The Trust acquired a very special birthday present - for its 40th anniversary - in the form of mentoring initiative Mosaic. Mosaic offer accredited mentoring programmes in schools; creating opportunities for 9 to 30-year-olds who are growing up in our most deprived communities.
The Trust announced that it had supported 1,000,000 young people to date in September 2020.