On 11th March 2016 their Royal Highnesses The Duke and Duchess returned for their second visit with urban youth charity XLP. During the visit they encouraged the mentors who have been trained by the charity, and met the young people they support who are now turning their lives around and realising their potential.
CEO and Founder of XLP, Patrick Regan OBE also discussed the key issues around knife crime and social justice with The Duke and Duchess
They were shown in-depth how a positive role-model mentoring relationship can encourage young people to reject gangs, criminality and knife crime in some of the toughest estates and boroughs in London where the charity works.
XLP’s XL-Mentoring partners mentors with young people who are on the verge of exclusion or excluded from school, and are already involved in gangs, crime and anti-social behaviour. It aims to help them choose to stay (or return to) school, to not join (or leave) gangs and criminality, and set positive, clear goals for themselves and work hard to achieve them.
The Duke and Duchess returned today for a second visit with urban youth charity XLP (The eXceL Project), which was founded almost 20 years ago. The Royal couple heard personal and at times challenging stories from young people and found out more about what the charity is doing to help children and young adults growing up in inner city London to stay in school, keep away from gangs, violence and anti-social behaviour; and instead learn to make wise lifestyle choices, set goals and work hard to achieve them.
The charity, which is based in the City at London Wall, also voiced their concerns about the recent significant rise in the number of stabbings and deaths amongst young people due to knife crime. In January 2016, Detective Superintendent Tim Champion from Trident Gang Crime Command publicly acknowledged that the level of fatal stabbings had risen recently because teenagers are still carrying knives. XLP’s mentoring programme is targeted at those most at risk and the charity has projects dealing with a wide variety of issues including gang culture, anger management and violence, poverty, prejudice, racism and image and identity.
Patrick Regan OBE said, ‘‘The encouragement and support we’ve received from The Duke and Duchess is immensely important to us and we are incredibly grateful they came again to see first-hand what is being achieved here. XLPs mentoring programme is about helping young people find an alternative to the life-long negative impact of educational failure, gangs and violence such as knife crime.
He continued, “We need long-term trusted mentoring relationships to help the next generation come through these challenges, build strong families and finally escape poverty and social deprivation. We’re in this for the long-haul and to see the greatest impact.”
The Duke and Duchess spent some time talking personally with Sephton, a young man who had been involved with gangs and criminality, having been in and out of prison seven times since the age of 14. Growing up in fear on a deprived housing estate where gangs and drugs are commonplace, his family life was broken and chaotic. Anger and frustration caused ever more difficult behaviour resulting in exclusion from school without qualifications, and involvement in violence and criminal activities.
A series of poor life choices resulted in serial reoffending, each offence more serious than the last. Sephton’s early years had set him up for a life of struggle, risky behaviour and poor social outcomes. Nothing convinced him that there was a better alternative, or that there was a way out until he met Ethan, a youth worker and mentor at XLP. Through getting to know Ethan, Sephton is turning his life around and with Ethan’s and XLP’s support he’s working hard to create a very different and better future for himself.
Sephton said, “XLP came in and showed me love, compassion and time, something I’d never been given before.”
The XL-Mentoring project is one of several programmes operated by the charity that offer ‘life chance’ opportunities and the support children and young people need when growing up on housing estates where gangs are pervasive and criminality, drugs and anti-social behaviour are common place. At home many face challenges such as family breakdown, mental health and addiction problems, unemployment and poverty, and the resulting bad behaviours can easily see them excluded from schools.