Of the 15-18 year-olds held in prison, almost 90% had been excluded from school, 36% before the age of 14. Therefore, charities like XLP (The eXceL Project) are essential in giving young people a second chance and more opportunities. The Jack Petchey Foundation is extremely pleased to support this fantastic initiative with a £31,000 project grant.
XLP has its own double-decker bus equipped with computers and a huge array of entertainment –including airhockey, a mini nail salon and even karaoke. The charity works with over 1800 young people a week in over 60 schools across Southwark, Lewisham, Greenwich, Tower Hamlets, Newham, Islington and Camden. In addition to collaborating with schools, XLP also works on estates and runs after-school clubs to encourage young people to make the right choices and recognise their potential.
Patrick Regan OBE, who is on the advisory board of the Centre for Social Justice and is the founder of XLP, began his fight against poverty and antisocial behaviour in 1996. In response to a stabbing in a Peckham school playground, the headteacher asked Patrick to work with the students and teachers on behavioural issues. Patrick started as a church based youth worker and although XLP is a Christian charity, it is not entirely faith-based.
Staff are trained to tackle tough issues like drugs, sex, anger management and image. XLP has had fantastic success in raising young people’s self-confidence and finding them alternatives to antisocial behaviour. As their website states, 'XLP has witnessed positive stories of young people whose futures have changed from going nowhere to having hope and purpose. These stories rarely get aired but are the fuel that keeps the vision alive’.
Beth Kilminster is a perfect example of this. The 17 year old has been involved with XLP for years. From attending the Regents Park Estate to becoming one of the young volunteers, Beth has come a long way. ‘XLP helped me when I was going through a really bad time, I don’t know where I’d be without it’. Beth has won three Jack Petchey Achievement Awards from XLP, the Air Cadets and her former school. She is a truly dynamic individual. When asked why she believed young people may become antisocial, Beth said ‘There’s nowhere to go and nothing to do. The government needs to stop closing all the youth clubs down and then wonder why we get up to no good!’
This is exactly why the Jack Petchey Foundation wants to support youth initiatives like this. The charity’s success has been recognised by many. Infact, in 2003, XLP received the Queen’s Golden Jubilee Award for service to the community and in 2010 the Mayor of London presented Patrick with the Londoner’s Peace Award. He then went on to receive an OBE in the Queen’s Jubilee Birthday Honours in 2012.
XLP's founder, Patrick Regan OBE, has recently published a book entitled 'When Faith Gets Shaken'. You can buy it here.
 Tye, D., Children and Young People in Custody (HM Inspectorate of Prisons Youth Justice Board, 2012), p27
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