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Our History

Founded by Lieutenant Colonel Peter Cross OBE in 2000, SkillForce was initially set up as a pilot project sponsored by the Ministry of Defence (MoD) to work in secondary schools with young people identified as ‘hard to reach’. Peter recognised that the skills and experience of ex-Forces personnel would benefit underperforming students as well as those at risk of exclusion through mentoring, teamwork, practical challenges and confidence-building exercises.

Under the leadership of Ben Slade (appointed March 2015), SkillForce has significantly broadened its scope to include far more early intervention work with Primary aged children, a ‘one company’ approach and character and resilience programmes that work for every child and young person aged 6 – 18. Ben conceived the brand new, pioneering SkillForce Prince William Award (formerly the SkillForce Character Award) and worked with SkillForce colleagues, specialist writers and partner organisations such as Standard Life plc and the University of Birmingham JCCV to develop a programme that enjoys the full support of SkillForce’s Royal Patron, HRH The Duke of Cambridge.

Since its inception, SkillForce has helped over 50,000 young people turn their lives around and, through doing so, realise their potential and become responsible citizens.

SkillForce became a registered charity in 2004 and has operated on a not-for-profit basis ever since, working in partnership with schools and leading third sector organisations such as the Royal British Legion and Help for Heroes, as well as statutory bodies including the Department for Education and the Equality and Human Rights Commission (formerly, the Commission for Racial Equality).

In addition to our commitment to young people, we also support ex-Forces personnel, providing training and opportunity to become qualified SkillForce Instructors.  Over the years, this has proved to be mutually beneficial with former service men and women acting as outstanding role models, mentors and coaches for those in their care.

His Royal Highness The Duke of Cambridge KG KT became the charity’s Royal Patron in 2009.  Both the Prince’s Award and Junior Prince’s Award focus on building character, fostering teamwork and encouraging public service. We greatly value our royal patronage for the recognition and endorsement it confers upon our work.

With continued support through grants, donations and, most important of all, partnerships, the Skillforce team, many of whom have served their country, look forward to continuing to serve their communities.