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A life without hope - thoughts on the Prince’s Trust Youth Index

by Stephanie Burras CBE, our Chief Executive

The report published by the Prince’s Trust of recent research on anxiety amongst young people is as concerning as it is challenging to the society that has created the negative environment that surrounds them.

For those of us that grew up before social media had reared its head, our childhood days must now seem positively Utopian. It is true that these were the days of oil crises, the 3-day week, industrial decline, inflation and deep recession, the threat of nuclear war and endless conflicts across the globe. Even so, I can’t recall my days being consumed with anxiety on the scale now being reported.

The fact that over half the young people questioned in this research said they have no hope for the future and, even worse, feel powerless to influence their fate, suggests we are failing our young on a monumental scale. As Dostoevsky wrote, to live without hope is to cease to live. It is all too easy for those of us that have been around a bit to approach the world with a cynical and pessimistic outlook. Many people may have felt that there is little positive to focus on at the turn of this particular new year but perhaps we should all start the new year with a resolution to try to be just a tad more optimistic.

This report reminds us, if reminder were needed, of the importance of having the young in mind as we make crucial decisions that affect the nation’s future. However it also shows just how much information young people are now exposed to and the impact that unguarded negativity on the part of the rest of us could be having on them over time. 

In this context and as we start another year, the work that we are doing with education and business partners through our Make the Grade programme has never been more important. We know that the young people that participate in our projects have more confidence as a result and are better informed about work and how to get it. They also develop resilience, self-awareness and the skills to face a future that will be far less defined than that of previous generations.

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But perhaps more than all of that, our projects bring young people together with adults that instil one essential thing – optimism for the future.

Read more about the impact of our Make the Grade programme in our 2016 report here >>

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