This afternoon I'll be meeting Emily. At just 12 years old Emily became a carer for her mother, who had become permanently disabled following a violent crime. Struggling to cope with the pressures of caring at such a young age, Emily became angry and disruptive and was close to being excluded from school. The year before her GCSEs, Emily's mother died.
Emily will today join 20 other young people from across the country at The Prince's Trust and L'Oréal Paris Celebrate Success Awards. Running for eight years now, the ceremony recognises young people who have succeeded against the odds. The Trust will pay tribute to young people who have overcome enormous challenges in their lives including abuse, drug addiction and homelessness.
Emily did not let her grief take over her life and decided to change things for the better. She joined The Prince's Trust xl club, which is an in-school personal development course for young people. The course helped Emily deal with her mother's death and the skills she developed helped her cope with life. Shortlisted for the Novae Educational Achiever Award, Emily now helps other young people tackle their truancy problems and organises fundraising events for charity.
Equally impressive is the progress made by a group of young people who have been nominated for the Balfour Beatty Community Impact Award. Battling a number of personal issues including unemployment, homelessness and substance abuse, they were challenged to redevelop an area of derelict land in north Glasgow into a community garden. After consulting with residents, the young people spent five weeks preparing the ground for new fencing, building raised growing beds, installing decking and pathways and improving access for vehicles and pedestrians. The project has had a significant impact within the community. Local residents report an increased sense of community cohesion, particularly between the older and younger generations. Meanwhile the young people have learnt valuable new skills such as joinery, landscaping and gardening and many still continue to volunteer at the project.
What these stories show is that it is possible to turn around a life if you give a young person hope, confidence and support.
We're very proud to be celebrating today but we also realise there is still much more to be done. We need to reach those young people who currently don't see a future for themselves. Some are faced with very challenging circumstances and many are weighed down by a constant anxiety about finding a job. Record youth unemployment figures and long queues at the job centre are, for many young people, a bleak reality.
This is where The Prince's Trust helps - we invest in young people through our programmes, our mentors and our volunteers - and we give young people hope. Last year, more than three in four young people supported by The Trust moved into work, education or training.
A vital objective of our awards ceremony today is to show other young people that however bad life gets, it is possible to make a new start. Our vision is that every young person should have the chance to succeed.
To find out more about The Prince's Trust visit www.princes-trust.org.uk