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15 March 2013

15 March 2013

Anyone who knows me well will know that I have been waiting for my opportunity for a reality TV debut since I put in a failed application to the first series of Shipwrecked in 1999. Every year since I’ve watched the X Factor and Big Brother, secretly wishing that it was my life I was seeing before me.

Well this Sunday night I will finally have my 10 seconds of fame – not singing a Tina Turner song to Simon Cowell as I had always dreamed – but instead making the case for one of London Youth’s most challenging and exciting project ideas to date, piloted on camera as part of The Secret Millions.

The Secret Millions follows five charities trialing their bid ideas to tackle some of Britain’s most challenging social issues – with the potential to secure up to £2 million from the Big Lottery Fund to roll their projects out wider – and London Youth is up first.

In episode one you’ll get to see young people working alongside retired tradespeople to bring a derelict Brixton property back into use – tackling three of Britain’s biggest social problems: isolation among older people, youth unemployment and empty homes. This pilot project was developed in partnership with Cospa, Lambeth Council and Community Trust Housing. It builds on the success of our Volunteer It Yourself (VIY) programme, currently rolling out nationally, which sees young people renovating their own youth clubs.

These two project ideas (along with social action programmes Athan 31 and Urban Nature), put young people at the heart of the solutions to society’s most fierce challenges – rather than seeing young people as part of the problem that needs to be fixed.

Despite the bleak economic context, London is currently in the midst of a huge amount of regeneration. VIY and The Secret Millions  (if we succeed) have the potential to help prepare young people for the demands that a regenerating London will put on its workforce; not only by giving them practical skills and accreditation in construction but also by developing their capabilities and confidence for work.

It has been National Apprenticeship Week this week – and we challenge everyone in this industry to think how they will bring young people into the future of their sector so that young people themselves can build, quite literally, the future of this brilliant capital city.

The sooner we invest in young people the sooner they can start investing back.

If, like me, you stay in on a Sunday night preparing for the week ahead, then you could do a lot worse this Sunday than to watch (Channel 4 at 8pm) and be inspired by Igor, David, Rachel, Prince and Robynn, working with George Clarke to bring a disused Brixton property back into use. They are all making London a better place, are you?

Sunday 17 March at 8pm will be the launch of The Secret Millions, a Channel 4 series backed by the Big Lottery Fund. The first programme focuses on London Youth. Tune in to find out if we are successful in a bid to roll out the pilot project. Join the discussions on twitter and use #SecretMillions #YouthWork

VIY begins its national roll out this week with the first club works starting in Birmingham.

To understand the current scale of London’s regeneration read this: http://barneystringer.wordpress.com/2013/02/03/a-new-perspective-on-londons-regeneration