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SkillForce CEO Ben Slade delivers important speech at House of Lords event

SkillForce CEO calls on leaders to join his mission to help change the future for young people

THE CEO of SkillForce said in a speech this week (Monday 30th April) that young people are caught up in a social media dominated world which is seriously eroding their confidence, self worth and fundamental aspects of their character.

At an event at the House of Lords Ben Slade said that we are living through an “epidemic of self loathing” caused partly by the incessant demands of social media on young people and the barrage of messages they are subjected to daily.

Ben Slade delivers his speech at the House of Lords

“I believe we are living through an epidemic of self loathing that is affecting our young people on a very fundamental level. I would go so far as to say that the problems of depression, anxiety, exploitation and radicalisation are all linked to a lack of self worth which is exacerbated by a relentless reliance on social media for cues on identity and belonging,” he said.

His words echo those of the Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt who in the previous week called on social media bosses to take the safety of children online more seriously and tighten up regulations around age limits.

In a letter to social media heads Mr Hunt said:
“I fear you are collectively turning a blind eye to a whole generation of children being exposed to the harmful emotional side effects of social media prematurely.”

Mr Slade said he agreed with the message from the Health Secretary but added that:
“It is the responsibility of all of us, from parents to teachers, governments and charities like SkillForce to ensure we do something to try to halt the problems young people now face including ever increasing mental health problems, knife crime, radicalisation and exploitation.

He called on guests at the Charity’s event attended by Lords, MPs and education leaders among many others to stand with him and “do something” to help today’s youth have a successful future, saying he believes that rocketing levels of anxiety, depression, eating disorders and gang culture can be linked to children failing to be given the tools to develop confidence, resilience and self-worth.

Ben Slade called on guests to help SkillForce secure the future for Britain’s young people

SkillForce’s character education programme The Prince William Award seeks to arm children from 6 – 18 with these core values. It is a course run in schools and taught by predominantly ex armed service instructors, described by SkillForce as ‘complementary role models’ who embody the values of resilience, determination and confidence.

SkillForce Prince William Award instructors gathered at the House of Lords

Mr Slade said: “We cannot fundamentally change the world we are living in nor can we wrap young people up in cotton wool but we now stand at a point in time where action is needed. Many commentators talk about ‘broken Britain’ and a disaffected youth but who is doing anything about it?

“Young people across Britain are increasingly connected and yet emotionally disconnected.”

Mr Slade’s battle cry for action at The House of Lords also came after WhatsApp announced plans to raise its user age limit to 16 from 13.

SkillForce Patron The Rt Hon The Earle Howe PC opens the event and gives an overview of the Prince William Award

Guests enjoy the speeches

Prince William Award students give a demonstration of the activities they enjoy on the programme

Prince William Award Ambassador and former Olympic Swimmer Kerri-Anne Payne helped host the evening and said as a PWA graduate herself she knows how this award helps students, families and whole communities.

Prince William Award Instructor Phil Carr told guests about his journey to becoming a SkillForce employee and what it means to him

Photography: Olivier Richomme

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