A Royal Patronage for Teens and Toddlers

Diana0Aug_2009Lady Diana Whitmore, CEO and founder of Teens and Toddlers write about how The Duke’s Patronage is going to boost their efforts with disadvantaged young people.

As a forward-thinking charity delivering innovative programmes for disengaged young people from disadvantaged areas across the UK, our work at Teens and Toddlers is very much aligned with the goals of HRH The Duke of York’s ‘Backing Youth’ initiative. We are therefore truly delighted that The Duke has agreed to deepen our already fruitful relationship by becoming Patron of our charity.

Two of our young people met HRH at the Backing Youth reception held at the Palace last July, and a further four programme graduates met The Duke at the subsequent careers fair at the Palace in December. All feel privileged and excited by the opportunities that are being made available to them by the relationship with HRH. It has also been a huge boost to the staff and trustees, and has strengthened our position as a charity that is leading the field in early intervention and NEET (Not in Education, Employment and Training) prevention.

Since it was founded in 2001, Teens and Toddlers has helped over 9,500 young people and vulnerable children in over 34 Local Authorities countrywide. The charity’s flagship programme benefits two sets of vulnerable children simultaneously, raising the aspirations of young people (age 13-16) from disadvantaged areas by pairing them as a mentor and role model to a child in a nursery who is in need of extra support. This gives young people the skills to address underlying issues that can lead to becoming disengaged, and is critical to prevent young people from becoming NEETs (Not in Education, Employment or Training) and reducing the likelihood of having children at an early age.

We believe that in order to reach their full potential in life young people must be nurtured much like seedlings. But sadly there are many young people today who receive no such care, and as a result fall through the cracks of society and become disengaged. Once young people have been labelled as problematic, this label is passed around so much that it eventually becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. The Teens and Toddlers approach empowers young people by trusting them rather than controlling them, respecting them rather than judging them. Teens who have never had a positive role model find one in the programme facilitator, who helps them to understand the scope of their potential and the consequences of the choices they make in life. The time they spend with the young children builds their sense of responsibility and self-esteem, and also gives them valuable insight into what it would be like to be a teen parent.

Before young people begin our programme teachers tell us that they expect 45% to become NEET and 45% to become teen parents. Once they graduate from our programme, however, the evaluation outcomes tell a different story, with only 3% becoming NEET and 1.6% reporting a pregnancy. Furthermore, our graduates go on to achieve an average of 6.5 GCSEs.

Together with our young people, we can liberate a wave of creativity and potential to create a more positive future – and it is through precious relationships like the one we now have with The Duke that we can open further doors of possibility for disengaged young people across the UK.

Lady Diana Whitmore, CEO, Teens and Toddlers

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