….AND WE HAD A ROYAL VISIT! – WILLS AND KATE AT CHRIST CHURCH, GIPSY HILL
Urban youth charity XLP have proudly welcomed the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge for the first time to visit some of their mentoring and community outreach projects based on inner city estates in London – including a trip to Christ Church, Gipsy Hill where the charity first started.
They then went on to visit XLP’s stripped out and refurbished former double decker bus in Hazel Grove, Sydenham, which reaches out to young people in the area who are facing some serious challenges in their lives, including gang culture, family breakdown and addiction.
“The Duke and Duchess immediately put everyone at ease through their genuine interest and even enjoying a joke with the young people – many of whom were very nervous meeting royalty for the first time” said an XLP spokeswoman.
The young people shared their own powerful, personal stories of overcoming incredibly tough situations. Including Nadine who is one of 16 children and experienced family breakdown.
She was made homeless at the age of 16, living rough on the streets for 2.5 years. XLP s help and mentoring of Nadine means she now has a home, a job and a real hope for the future.
Nadine, now 18, was one of several young people from XLP’s Arts programme performing at the event.
She was speaking on stage just before she performed a poignant and powerful poem she had written for the event today, and summed up her experience of the charity: “XLP saved my life really.
“I’ve been through many times where I haven’t felt important myself so to share that experience with the Duke and Duchess is exhilarating – I feel like my passion was being valued”.
Keziah Regan, daughter of XLP’s founder and CEO, Patrick Regan, delighted the couple with a baby Gro designed specially for the soon to be new arrival, with an inspirational message about the amazing potential of young people growing up in difficult circumstances.
Patrick Regan said: “Today’s royal visit means so us. “To know that the Duke & Duchess care so much about the issues young people face makes such a difference”.
The young people at Hazel Grove had a rare opportunity to spend time discussing the harrowing issues they face on a daily basis with the Royal couple. For some XLP has become their family in the aftermath of their own families breaking down.
Many of the young people went on to talk about their experiences with issues like mental health and domestic violence.
The Duke & Duchess responded with encouraging words of their own and telling the young people that they had a bright future and should be proud of themselves.
The Duke added that they “were an inspiration to us all” especially in light of the terrible things they had experienced.
The Duke and Duchess were very impressed by the young people and the charity describing it as “Incredible and revolutionary”.
In 1996, in response to a stabbing in a school playground, the school’s headmaster asked Patrick Regan, a local church based youth worker, to come into the school and work with their students and teachers to help with difficult behavioural issues.
This was the beginning of XLP, a Christian charity that has an emphasis on being faith-based, but not faith-biased.
Over the past 16 years XLP has grown from working in a single school to operating in over 75 schools and communities across Southwark, Lewisham, Greenwich, Tower Hamlets, Newham, Islington and Camden.
In the early days, Patrick began by hosting a lunch-time club on school premises that taught the kids more about their own heroes, and in particular how those heroes behaved.
Today, on a day-to-day basis, XLP has projects working with over 1800 young people 1-2-1 and in small groups each week and engages with over 12,000 each year.
XLP’s Founder and CEO believes young people dealing with difficult life issues can have a positive future: “To develop as a whole person, you need three things: a sense of self-worth, a sense of belonging and the means by which to cope, and this is what XLP is all about – showing young people their own potential and helping them reach it.
In the words of Patrick Regan OBE, XLP refuse to believe this is a lost generation. Many young people who come to our projects once felt there was no hope, but being involved with XLP has given them a sense of hope, purpose and belonging”. (Sources: XLP press release, XLP)